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In Brief - New Mexico News - June 10, 2013

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The Associated Press

Drought forces changes at lake
CONCHAS — The drought is taking its toll on Conchas Lake.
Officials with New Mexico State Parks have decided to close the Cove and Central recreation areas at the lake, including the boat ramps, until further notice. They say the lake is now at its lowest level since 1940.
Every corner of New Mexico is dealing with some form of drought. The latest map compiled by federal forecasters shows exceptional drought — the worst category — is covering nearly half of the state.
State Parks Director Tommy Mutz says circumstances are demanding that the agency protect park visitors from hazards associated with low water levels.
He also says the resources and options for improving boating access at state parks are limited because the drought is increasing the number and scale of these types of projects.

Power lines worry senators
ALBUQUERQUE,  — Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation are urging federal officials and utility companies to find ways to prevent wildfires.
Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have sent letters to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Interior Department and several utilities and electric cooperatives.
Their concerns stem from two wildfires that are burning in the Santa Fe National Forest in northern New Mexico. The fires have charred dozens of square miles in just one week after being sparked by downed power lines.
Udall and Heinrich say current regulations should be reviewed and improvements made.
They say extra attention to vegetation management along rights of way and quick responses to downed lines will be important steps in preventing the kinds of fires that can threaten homes, other infrastructure and forests.

Drilling waste rule changed  
SANTA FE — New Mexico is changing its regulations on managing waste from oil and gas drilling.
A 51-page order issued Thursday by the state Oil Conservation Commission makes numerous changes to the so-called “pit rule,” which industry groups called too expensive and cumbersome.
The regulations were adopted in 2009. They’re intended to prevent drilling waste from leaching into groundwater.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, most of the changes affect waste pit permits, siting, design, construction and closure.
The commission says the changes streamline and clarify the rule, making it easier for small-scale drillers to comply.
Environmentalists and sportsmen groups opposed any relaxation of the rule.
One change includes allowing than one well to a waste pit. Another eliminates a reporting requirement on impacts on soil and water.