EPA watchdog raises concerns about New Mexico water funding

By Kevin Bogardus | 06/06/2024 04:34 PM EDT

Trouble filling jobs at the state’s environmental agency poses challenges as it receives millions of infrastructure law dollars for clean water projects.

EPA Office of Inspector General.

A sign on the door of EPA's Office of Inspector General. Francis Chung/POLITICO

EPA’s internal watchdog has warned that New Mexico’s environmental agency may struggle with handling an influx of cash from the 2021 infrastructure law as it rebuilds the state’s water systems.

EPA’s Office of Inspector General released a report Thursday examining how the New Mexico Environment Department is managing federal funds from the agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The program provides low-interest loans to state governments to build out water infrastructure projects.

The effort is paramount to President Joe Biden’s agenda of supporting underserved communities burdened with pollution and has received substantial additional funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The question remains whether smaller agencies can handle that flood of money in order to meet the Biden administration’s goals.


The inspector general found the New Mexico agency is managing to meet the financial and organizational capacity required to use its infrastructure law funds. Yet the state’s clean water revolving fund has “limited participation” because potential recipients there can’t afford to take out loans or operate small water systems, according to the report.