Produced Water A Call to Action

Dear Residents and Activist,

Here is what you can do to help send letters and comments to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), Office of the State Engineer (OSE) and the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) agencies who are writing regulations and rules on using produced oil and gas wastewater outside the industry. The very BAD Produced Water legislation was rushed through the legislature, loaded with misrepresentations and now the Governor has ordered state agencies to form a consortium to pass rules that allow “Beneficial Use of Produced Water“.

Produced water is highly toxic oil and gas wastewater that flows back out of the fracked gas and oil wells. Peer-reviewed studies have shown that even treated wastewater has carcinogenic contaminants that are not regulated and unknown contaminates that have been covered-up by industry as “Trade Secrets” and lacks the transparency of what is in the water.

The NMED is considering allowing the use of produced water on agricultural crops, livestock, road spreading, aquifer injection and dumping into arroyos steams and rivers. Unregulated contaminants include Radium NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials) radionuclides that accumulate in pathways throughout the environment. This is a serious issue because there is radium contamination of drill sites in multiple states.

Please send your email comments to the Agencies and Governor’s office.


  • Oil and gas wastewater has no place in our food system. New Mexico’s wastewater reuse regulations must prohibit the use of drilling wastewater on cropland and pasture, as well as livestock watering and aquifer recharging.

  • Wastewater may include hazardous chemicals used in drilling, including known/suspected carcinogens, and chemicals that harm developmental and reproductive health.

  • Wastewater also contains naturally-occurring substances like heavy metals and radioactive materials that are linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, and damage to the respiratory and immune systems.

  • New Mexico cannot regulate what it does not know. Through trade secret loopholes, companies can hide the names of chemicals used in drilling fluids, making it impossible for regulators to address all potential hazards.

  • Treating wastewater for agricultural reuse may generate more toxic waste. The state suggests injecting effluent (liquid byproduct of treatment) into underground storage wells, and sending sludge to solid waste facilities – hardly a model of “recycling.”

  • Public resources should not be exploited to help an industry deal with its enormous wastewater problem. Instead, New Mexico should invest in a swift transition to 100 percent renewable energy sources, including tapping into its enormous potential for solar power.

Tips and talking points for your letter are on the next page.