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Water. Soil and Air Contamination Risks

  • Utility scale solar facilities can lead to short and long term adverse environmental impacts upon soil and water resources.

  • Chemicals contained within lithium-ion batteries can be released during a fire, creating toxic gases, with the potential for explosion. 


  • Chemical releases can also contribute to liquid pollution when mixed with firefighting water, thereby contaminating soil or groundwater.

“Lithium- ion fires release an array of deadly toxins including Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Cyanide, Hydrogen Fluoride and Cobalt. These toxins are especially dangerous to firefighters because they are dermally absorbed through the skin and no personal protective clothing can protect you against it.” 

-- Greg McConville, UFUA National Secretary 

  • The AES Rancho Viejo Solar Plant will be located in between Bonanza Creek and Gallina Arroyo.  Multiple tributaries and arroyos are in this area.

  • Most residents in this area are dependent upon this area's groundwater.


Water Requirements for AES Rancho Viejo Solar Facility

AES estimates between 32.6 million gallons up to 48.9 million gallons of water will be used during the construction phase. 

AES estimates between 652 thousand gallons to 978 thousand gallons of water per year, will be used for normal maintenance.  

Desert Biocrust and Erosion 

Just as fragile coral reefs are critical to tropical marine habitats, the fragile desert biocrust is crucial in supporting healthy desert drylands.  


The Desert Biocrust is a top layer of living microorganisms, which covers the soil and is critical in maintaining a healthy desert ecosystem. 


The Desert Biocrust plays a critical role in maintaining the desert ecosystem, such as:

  • Stabilizing soil so that it does not blow away (such as in dust storms)

  • Boosting soil fertility by taking in carbon and nitrogen, which provides the nutrients needed to sustain desert plants and wildlife.

  • Retaining moisture by increasing rain absorption during our monsoon seasons.

The loss of desert biocrust, such as in land development, can seriously affect the desert ecosystem. 

  • When desert biocrusts are destroyed, the exposed soil is prone to erosion as well as loss of native desert plants and the wildlife that depends on it.

  • Once the biocrust is damaged, the delicate crust can take hundreds of years to recover, as scientists have proven.  

Support New Mexico in transitioning to clean energy, while avoiding unnecessary risks to our communities and further destruction to our environment.  

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