PFAS Information

SFWA is working to support our community partners in addressing the PFAS plume in the lower Santa Fe watershed centered in the community of La Cieneguilla. Please note SFWA is not playing a leadership role in this effort and is not an expert, but we hope to support short- and long-term solutions to this emergency however possible. We will do our best to update this page regularly with background information and ways to get involved. 

If you have suggestions, corrections, or information to share here, please let us know.

Public Statements

Read Full 2/22/24 NMED Statement Here (text below)

Environment Department provides update on PFAS contamination near the Santa Fe Airport, Responsible party not yet identified

Note: This is a correction to a Feb. 22, 2024 news release that incorrectly identified Santa Fe County asthe lead agency on fire response at the Santa Fe Airport. The City of Santa Fe’s Fire Department is the lead response agency for fire response at the Santa Fe Airport. Thank you to Santa Fe County Manager Gregory S. Shaffer for providing this information to the department. We apologize for the error.

SANTA FE — The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) continues to work to identify the responsible party or parties associated with per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination around the Santa Fe Airport. Potential sources of the contamination include the Army National Guard’s use of PFAS-containing Aqueous Film Forming Foam at the site until the early 2000’s, the City of Santa Fe’s wastewater treatment solids disposal area, and the City of Santa Fe Fire Department’s fire response
at the regional airport.

In 2019, the Army National Guard informed NMED that it was beginning preliminary site assessment at the Army Aviation Support Facility adjacent to the Santa Fe Airport. NMED was involved in reviewing sampling locations and sampling methodology as the site assessment plan was developed by the Army National Guard. NMED received the final site investigation report in October of 2023, and is finalizing its review of the 22,000+ page report. NMED is evaluating the sampling data from the site investigation performed by the Army National Guard and coordinating with the Army National Guard as they move forward with further site investigation to identify the nature and extent of the PFAS contamination. NMED is currently awaiting groundwater sampling data from the City of Santa Fe’s monitoring wells around the wastewater treatment solids disposal areas adjacent to the airport. NMED expects the City of Santa Fe to provide sampling data results to the department by Feb. 29, 2024. The data will assist NMED in determining if the solids disposal area may be contributing to the contamination.

Under New Mexico’s Hazardous Waste Act and Water Quality Act, it is illegal to release PFAS into the environment. As a result of the contamination, NMED anticipates issuing enforcement actions, including investigation and clean-up orders, to the responsible parties to require clean-up of the PFAS contamination at the source and other impacted areas once defined.

PFAS are a group of 15,000 or more synthetic chemicals used in a variety of products, including food packaging, nonstick cookware, and certain types of fire-fighting materials. PFAS were used in firefighting foam at Air Force bases and airports across the United States. PFAS are known as “forever” chemicals because they do not easily degrade in the environment due to their chemical properties. Thus, The Environment Department’s mission is to protect and restore the environment and to foster a healthy and prosperous New Mexico for present and future generations.

PFAS can build up over time in soil, water, and living organisms and are found in water sources around the world. Growing evidence suggests exposure to some PFAS chemicals can lead to adverse health effects including increased cholesterol, reproductive problems, and cancer.

In 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed regulations to establish legally enforceable levels, called Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs), for six PFAS in drinking water.

Additional information about PFAS is available here.


Read full 2/8/24 Department of Defense Letter/Statement Here (text below)

The Army National Guard appreciates your inquiry into the ongoing investigation at the New Mexico Army National Guard Sante Fe Army Air Support Facility (AASF) and encourages and welcomes community involvement in our Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) restoration process. We will soon formally solicit community interest in forming a restoration advisory board, a formal mechanism for community engagement in the restoration process.

The Army National Guard follows CERCLA for the environmental work at the Sante Fe AASF mentioned in your letter. As part of the CERCLA process, the Army National Guard completed a Preliminary Assessment, a historical review of activities and specifically Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) use at this facility. AFFF is commonly known as firefighting foam, which is used to put out fuel fires at military installations, airports, and other industrial applications globally. The Preliminary Assessment was finalized August 2020, and is available at www.nationalguard.mil/Environmental/PFAS.

Based upon the findings of that initial effort, the Army National Guard initiated on-installation sampling in the form of a Site Inspection to determine if a release of AFFF had occurred. This sampling effort was coordinated with the New Mexico Environmental Department, who participated in the planning and finalization of the findings. Although contamination was identified in shallow groundwater, samples of the regional aquifer were found to be unimpacted. The Site Inspection final report is available at the link above.

Additional sampling to determine the nature and extent of contamination in groundwater and soil is planned this year in a Remedial Investigation. If, at any point during this work our results indicate that the activities at the Santa Fe AASF may have impacted downgradient drinking water wells, we will immediately initiate a request to sample those drinking water wells. ARNG G-9 takes the health of its community seriously and will act immediately if releases associated with our activities have impacted drinking water above 70 parts per trillion Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). If you would like to share the well locations and data mentioned in your letter, we would welcome that information.

Please contact the undersigned at (703) 607-1277 or armyguardcleanup@army.mil if you have any questions and/or concerns.


Read full 2/5/24 NMED Letter to Santa Fe River Traditional Communities Collaborative Response Letter (text below)

Dear Co-Chairs Dickens and Hensley,

Thank you for reaching out on behalf of the Santa Fe River Traditional Communities Collaborative to share your concerns regarding the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) detected by tests conducted by Santa Fe County in five private wells in La Ciengeguilla and La Cienega communities. Testing for and remediating PFAS contamination is an emerging and evolving issue with regulation criteria still being developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) does not yet have regulatory authority or dedicated funding to continuously test for PFAS contamination. NMED also does not have the authority to regulate private wells and can only make recommendations to private well owners who are responsible for testing, treating, and maintaining their wells.

The Department has implemented new efforts to improve data gathering and communications on PFAS contamination in New Mexico water sources including:

  • Offered a $459,000 to Santa Fe County for a PFAS characterization project to investigate, model and plan for known PFAS contamination within the County with funding from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (offered November 2023 and currently submitted for review by Santa Fe County Commission).
  • Developed PFAS communications materials and websites including:

Please work with your contacts at Santa Fe County to integrate your concerns with their efforts under the upcoming PFAS characterization project. However, it is important to note that under New Mexico state law, private well water quality is not regulated, and well owners are responsible for testing and treating their water. Please also review and share the recommendations contained in the attached NMED PFAS flyer. NMED will make information regarding any new funding opportunities for private well testing or remediation available on the Drinking Water Bureau and PFAS web pages. NMED will also continue to work with Santa Fe County as they implement their PFAS Characterization Project.

Thank you again for your letter and sharing your concerns. If you have further questions, please contact John Rhoderick Water Protection Division Director at john.rhoderick@env.nm.gov or (505) 819-8284.