Ed Williams

Public Health New Mexico Reporter

Ed Williams came to KUNM in 2014 by way of Carbondale, Colorado, where he worked as a public radio reporter covering environmental issues. Originally from Austin, Texas, Ed has reported on environmental, social justice, immigration and Native American issues in the U.S. and Latin America for the Austin American-Statesman, Z Magazine, NPR’s Latino USA and others. In his spare time, look for Ed riding his mountain bike in the Sandias or sparring on the jiu-jitsu mat.

Ed Williams

Storm water is a major source of pollution in the Rio Grande. The U.S. Geological Survey released a nine-year study of storm water in the Albuquerque area last week, finding  high concentrations of pollutants in the city’s arroyos.

Andy Magee via Flickr

Some of the money from the Department of Energy’s settlement with New Mexico following a radiation leak at a nuclear waste storage facility last year will go to address storm water issues at Los Alamos National Laboratory. 

Geologue via Flickr

An environmental law firm in Santa Fe is petitioning the state Supreme Court to overturn a law that allows copper mines to pollute groundwater. 

As the law stands, companies can allow toxic drainage to seep into the groundwater beneath their copper mines, as long as the pollution stays within a designated perimeter. But New Mexico Environmental Law Center director Douglas Meiklejohn says that’s a violation of the state’s Water Quality Act.

Ed Williams

    

Santiago Maestas has been growing fruits and vegetables on a small plot of land in the South Valley for over 40 years. He's standing by a centuries-old acequia near Isleta Boulevard south of Albuquerque—a modest, earthen ditch carrying slow-moving irrigation water away from the Rio Grande and into fields and gardens.

Mike Tungate via Flickr / Creative Commons License

KUNM Call In Show 5/7 8a: 

Bernalillo County commissioners are considering a residential development plan to build almost 40,000 new homes west of Albuquerque. Developers say it’s a smart, efficient way to plan for population growth and boost the local economy—but critics say it will hurt public health and burden dwindling water supplies. We’ll talk with Santolina’s planning team, public health researchers and South Valley farmers. 

Mark Bray via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The sound of city garbage trucks cruising the streets is familiar to most of us. But it’s a sound many people in Albuquerque’s North Valley are worried they’ll be hearing too much of, if the city’s proposal to build a trash center here goes through. Neighbors like Peggy Norton say the plan is a threat to the surrounding area.

Ed Williams-KUNM

About one hundred people showed up to a City of Albuquerque public meeting Tuesday on a proposal to build a trash transfer center in the North Valley.

Under the proposal garbage trucks would drop the city’s trash at a 75,000 square foot waste transfer station at the corner of Edith and Griegos - then larger trucks would haul the trash off to the dump.

Jane Foster lives in the neighborhood and, like many who attended, says she worries the plan will harm people living nearby.

KUNM Reporting Series

Apr 15, 2015

The Rio Grande runs through three states, and all along the way communities use the river’s waters for drinking, crop irrigation, and for Native American religious ceremonies. But with New Mexico’s biggest urban centers and military bases—and the substantial pollution they generate—near to the riverbanks, how safe is the Rio Grande for people and wildlife?

KUNM

This week Governor Susana Martinez signed a pair of bills aimed at addressing New Mexico’s nurse shortage by making more financial aid available for educators. 

Registered nurses who will become medical instructors can now use the Nurse Educators Fund to get a higher degree.

Ed Williams

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority announced Wednesday that it’s building more backup safety systems at the wastewater treatment plant following a massive spill of partially treated sewage into the Rio Grande.

Wild Earth Guardians via flickr

Mora County was the first county in the United States to ban the practice of fracking. But, last week, commissioners there unanimously voted to overturn the ban.

Last week’s vote repealed a 2013 ordinance passed by the county commission that said fracking was a violation of the community’s right to clean air and water.

Intel Free Press / Wikimedia Commons

KUNM Call In Show 4/2 8a:

With high rates of illnesses like diabetes or addiction, rural New Mexicans have some of the most pressing medical needs in the state. But those same residents have the most trouble getting the health care they need. We'll dig into the health needs in rural New Mexico and explore how the Internet is being used to fill some gaps.

We'd like to hear from you! Email callinshow@kunm.org, post your comments online or call in live during the show. 

Guests: 

Arianna Sena

Psychiatric Meds In School—PASSED

wcn227 via Flickr

The Obama administration announced broad new federal regulations of hydraulic fracturing last week. The rules will only apply to drilling on public land — which in New Mexico accounts for around half of all oil and gas operations.

The new regulations announced by the Interior Department allow for federal inspections of drill sites and require public disclosure of fracking chemicals, among other things.   

Thomas Quine via Flickr

  

The city of Albuquerque will award over $2 million in contracts to five local nonprofits to fund mental health, homelessness and hunger programs. 

Half a million dollars of the city’s funding will pay for housing programs run by Health Care For the Homeless and the Supportive Housing Coalition. Anita Córdova is with Healthcare for the Homeless.

Ed Williams-KUNM

Albuquerque’s wastewater treatment plant spilled nearly 6 million gallons of partially treated sewage into the Rio Grande last Friday. Public Health New Mexico’s Ed Williams reports there was an equipment failure at one of the plant’s pumping facilities.

Officials with the Southside Wastewater Reclamation Plant say there was a spike in power during last week’s heavy snowstorm. That power spike disabled a pump station.

Plant Operations Manager Charles Leder says backup systems should have protected the facility from power fluctuations.

Ed Williams

High interest, small dollar loans are abundant in New Mexico. Businesses offer quick cash payments for people who need money right away. But the interest rates on these loans can be as high as two thousand percent, and many people are unable to pay them off.   

This is especially true in the state's low-income communities. Statewide, storefront lending businesses outnumber fast food chain restaurants.

Ed Williams

We recently published the first two stories in an ongoing series on pollution and the Rio Grande in which we plan to explore a range of topics and issues.

Rita Daniels

Businesses, military bases and city utilities have dozens of permits to release pollution into the Rio Grande watershed. Albuquerque’s wastewater treatment plant is one of the biggest sources of discharges into the river.

The plant has had trouble with regulators and neighboring communities in the past, but they’re making some headway. 

On a recent sunny day in Albuquerque’s South Valley, water utility workers bent over a grate taking readings of the city’s treated wastewater as it rushes from the Southside Water Reclamation Plant into the Rio Grande.

Ed Williams-KUNM

 

    

Editor's Note: After we published this story, a spokesperson for Kirtland Air Force Base wrote with a series of objections to the story. Kirtland did not allege any factual inaccuracy in our story but we did make a change to reflect that Kirtland's lead discharges into the Rio Grande watershed are not in violation of environmental laws. You can read all of their objections and our responses here

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NOWCastSA via flickr

School districts in New Mexico are stepping up their enforcement of vaccination rules in the wake of recent measles outbreaks in other parts of the country. Santa Fe Public Schools will begin turning away students who haven’t met the requirements Tuesday. School Board President Steve Carrillo says the district is enforcing state policy that’s already in place. 

bewellnm

New Mexico residents have only a few days left before the February 15 deadline to sign up for health insurance and to be covered by March 1, 2015.

Ed Williams-KUNM

Wednesday was the last day for homeless people living in a tent city to leave their camp on 1st Street in downtown Albuquerque. Most of the camp’s occupants have already moved out.  

About five occupied tents remain just north of Albuquerque’s rail yards. Not long ago 35 tents had spread along this strip of city property, prompting complaints from neighbors and support from advocates.

Environmental Protection Agency

The Navajo Nation is set to receive over a billion dollars to clean up abandoned uranium mines on tribal land. The money comes after years of court battles with mining companies.

Ed Williams-KUNM

Two local nonprofits are leading a survey of the Albuquerque’s homeless population this week. Teams of volunteers are canvassing the streets in the pre-dawn hours to count homeless residents and interview them.

There were almost 1,200 homeless Albuquerque residents last time the count took place, and organizers are hoping there are even fewer people to count this year.

Ed Williams-KUNM

Lawmakers are set to consider a proposal that would give homeless people protection under the state hate crimes act. Under the proposal anyone convicted of violent crimes against a homeless person—for example someone who lacks a regular place to sleep or is living in a homeless shelter—would be subject to a longer jail sentence.

El Avi via flickr

Five New Mexicans  have died so far this year from flu related illnesses, ranging in age from 29 to 92. The announcement from the state Department of Health comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning of epidemic levels of flu activity nationally. 

Anna Dashkova via Flickr

Democratic State Senator Michael Padilla of Bernalillo County plans to introduce legislation that would require pharmacies to set up programs to take back unwanted medications from residents. A recently changed federal law had previously prohibited such programs.

elycefeliz via flickr

The Environmental Protection Agency is working with the City of Albuquerque to install a state of the art parking lot at a municipal facility that will reduce pollution flowing into the Rio Grande. 

The city is spending $61,000 to replace an old parking lot at Pino Yards, a municipal maintenance and fueling facility. The project is part of a settlement with the EPA, coming after toxic runoff from the site drained into the Rio Grande, resulting in violations of the Clean Water Act.

@BeWellNM on Twitter

New Mexico residents have until midnight to sign up for health insurance in order to be covered by Jan. 1. The final deadline for the open enrollment period is Feb. 15. The Obama administration is urging everyone to go online and check the available coverage options, even those who signed up last year. 

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