Bill to Safeguard Drinking Water Moves to House Floor
HB 511 Criminalizes Making False Statements or Falsifying Data on Water Quality
Santa Fe, NM – A bill to protect consumer rights and public health passed the House Judiciary Committee today. House Bill 511 imposes penalties for lying to inspectors or falsifying data related to the quality of drinking water. Owners and operators of drinking water supply systems could be charged with a felony if they knowingly provide false information to the New Mexico Environment Department.
“When New Mexicans turn on their taps, they should feel confident the water is clean. Unfortunately, we have seen incidents where water quality test results were falsified, so consumers were drinking water that was unsafe,” said Representative Nathan Small (D-Las Cruces), the bill's sponsor. “No one should be able to jeopardize public health and safety with impunity.”
Currently, it is not a crime to make false statements or falsify data relating to water quality. Last year, thousands of Farmington-area residents were under a boil-water advisory for months after regulators said the local water system had provided false water quality data to the New Mexico Environment Department, leading to severe illnesses and damage to washing machines and water heaters.
A previous House bill attempting to criminalize falsifying water quality data was blocked by Republicans from advancing to the floor. HB 511 next moves to the House Floor.