Senator Heinrich CoSponsors Bills To Address PFAS, Water Contamination In Private Wells


Water Well at Hacienda Escondida (Photo by Chris Edwards,

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced that he has cosponsored new legislation to protect New Mexico communities from dangerous contaminants like PFAS and help working families build a strong foundation for the future. This directly follows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s announcement of the first-ever national, legally enforceable drinking water standard that will reduce Americans’ exposure to PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals.'

Exposure to PFAS has been linked to deadly cancers, impacts to the liver and heart, and immune and developmental damage to infants and children.

“Clean water is essential to the health and economic well-being of working families,” said Heinrich. “I’m proud to cosponsor legislation that will protect New Mexicans in rural communities from dangerous forever chemicals by providing access to new technology that detects and gets rid of water contaminants. Together with the EPA’s new standards for PFAS, these bills will go a long way to keeping New Mexicans safe and helping our state build a stronger foundation for the future.”

The Healthy H2O Act would provide grants for water testing and treatment technology directly to individuals and non-profits in rural communities. Currently, about 270,000 New Mexicans, or 13 percent of the state population (primarily in rural communities), rely exclusively on groundwater delivered through private wells for their drinking water. These groundwater sources are not subject to the same oversight and testing for contamination of public water sources. Water quality improvement systems installed at the faucet or within a building can provide immediate and ongoing protection from known and emerging water contaminants, like PFAS, lead, and nitrates.

The Technical Fix for the State Response to Contaminants Program Act would ensure that states have flexibility to use funding from the $5 billion provided in the Infrastructure Law — which Heinrich helped pass into law — for PFAS and other emerging contaminants in small or disadvantaged communities to help assist private well owners get rid of toxins in their drinking water. Congress intended for that funding to be available to states to help address private well contamination among other eligible uses of the funding. Currently, the EPA interprets statute as only allowing for assistance to private wells if it is being used to connect to public water systems. Because connecting to public water systems may not be feasible or desirable in all cases, this bill clarifies that assistance may be provided for the benefit of well owners that are not public water systems and are not connected to a public water system.

The Technical Fix for the State Response to Contaminants Program Act is led by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Alongside Heinrich, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Angus King (I-Maine). The text of the bill is here.

The Healthy H2O Act is led by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). Alongside Heinrich, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Angus King (I-Maine).

The bill is supported by International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, The Water Quality Association, The National Ground Water Association, The Groundwater Foundation, American Supply Association, NSF International, Water Systems Council, Water Well Trust, Ground Water Association, and more. The text of the bill is here.


Heinrich has long championed efforts to reduce New Mexicans’ exposure to dangerous water contaminants and keeping working families safe from PFAS. To date, Heinrich has announced roughly $441 million to New Mexico to provide clean and safe water across the state and improve water infrastructure.

In the FY24 Defense Appropriations Bill, Heinrich successfully advocated for $401 million for defense environmental mitigation activities, including PFAS cleanup.

In March 2023, Heinrich and the New Mexico congressional delegation announced $18,914,000 from the Infrastructure Law to address emerging contaminants, like PFAS, in drinking water.

In February 2023, Heinrich and the New Mexico congressional delegation highlighted how the Infrastructure Law represents the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, including the first-ever dedicated federal funding to replace lead service lines and address dangerous PFAS chemicals.

In September 2022, Heinrich and U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) called on the Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Lloyd Austin and White House officials to increase funding for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances?(PFAS) testing and remediation, and to improve PFAS-related planning to make use of the higher funding levels that Congress is willing to appropriate to address the pervasive issue.

In the FY21 Appropriations Bill, Heinrich secured language to direct the Air Force to address PFAS contamination on agricultural lands, a provision directly related to PFAS issues in the areas surrounding Cannon AFB. This provision included $20 million in base operations support for PFAS remediation, $15 million increase in strategic environmental research program for PFAS remediation, and a $3 million increase in PFAS response. It also included $49 million in funding for environmental cleanup programs and related scientific research to help address PFAS contamination, which is a major issue in the Cannon AFB area.

In February 2021, during an Armed Services Committee Hearing, Heinrich reinforced the need for DoD and the U.S. Air Force to take full responsibility for PFAS contamination in communities across the country – including one of the hardest hit communities in and around Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico. Heinrich also pressed then-DoD-Secretary-designate Lloyd Austin on this issue at a January 2021 Armed Services Committee Hearing.

In the FY20 Appropriations Bill, Heinrich and then-U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) secured report language directing the Secretary of Agriculture to use an existing program for dairy indemnity to purchase cattle contaminated by PFAS chemicals.

In the FY20 NDAA Bill, Heinrich included provisions from H.R. 1567 or the PFAS Damages Act, to provide relief to communities and businesses impacted by PFAS contamination in groundwater around Air Force bases in New Mexico and across the country, including dairy farms in New Mexico that have been upended by PFAS contamination from nearby Cannon Air Force Base.

In June 2020, Heinrich, Udall, and then-U.S. Representative Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.)announced that the Bureau of Reclamation within the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), awarded $499,377 to the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and New Mexico State University for desalination and PFAS water purification research projects.

In February 2020, Heinrich, Udall, and Luján sent a letter demanding DoD to assist with drinking water clean up after PFAS chemicals were detected within the Clovis, New Mexico water system.

In March 2019, Heinrich cosponsored the PFAS Action Act, legislation that would mandate the EPA within one year of enactment, to declare PFAS and PFOS as hazardous substances eligible for federal cleanup funds under the EPA’s Superfund law (CERCLA).

That same month, during an Armed Services Committee Hearing, Heinrich demanded answers from the Acting Secretary of Defense on the Pentagon's response to PFAS contamination in groundwater around Air Force bases in New Mexico.

In February 2019, Heinrich and Udall called on the EPA to develop federal drinking water standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as part of the agency’s national management plan for this class of chemicals.

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