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Meridian Institute

San Juan River -- New Mexico Collaborative Watershed Project

Related: Environment and Natural Resources

Extensive ranching and range land management, along with resource extraction and urban development, are thought to have contributed to water quality degradation throughout much of the San Juan Watershed in New Mexico. In support of Total Maximum Daily Load implementation by the State of New Mexico Environment Department (to comply with Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act), Meridian was hired to help the San Juan community develop the capacity to improve water quality in the watershed.


Meridian’s subcontractor, Gary Broetzman, took the lead on the project, facilitating quasi-monthly meetings over the course of four years among a diverse array of stakeholders. Participants included members of the general public; water users; private landowners; local, state, and federal officials; Tribal representatives; environmental group representatives; mining interests; and local businesspeople.


Mr. Broetzman completed a convening assessment, which led to the development of the San Juan Watershed Group (SJWG). The SJWG then developed a detailed Watershed Restoration Action Strategy for the San Juan River.


The group discovered that coliform bacteria is a primary concern in the San Juan River and its tributaries. If not addressed in a timely manner, this contamination may result in federal intervention against the state or local interests. To address this concern, the SJWG pursued additional funds to assess the sources and extent of the bacterial contamination. The SJWG received a second grant from the state in the spring of 2005 in support of additional water quality sampling and analysis, to more fully characterize the level, type, and source of contamination. Meridian’s work in the watershed ended in July 2005 when the group transitioned to local leadership.

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