WHEN THE NEWS CAME IN mid-April, we were well into reporting this month’s “Worth Every Last Drop” cover story. The Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit American Rivers had placed New Mexico’s rivers—yes, every single one—atop its list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers for 2024.

The campaign, started in 1984, highlights waterways whose fate hangs in the balance and encourages policymakers and citizens to act in the best interest of the rivers and the communities that depend on them. While New Mexico rivers had appeared on the list before, grouping them at the number-one spot emphasized the scope and urgency of the risks. The impending threat? The U.S. Supreme Court decision Sackett v. EPA removed almost all federal clean water protections for New Mexico’s streams and wetlands that were not “relatively permanent.” So those that run only during the rainy season or thanks to snowmelt would be excluded.

The stakes, as the report declared, couldn’t be any higher: “From the Upper Río Grande to the Gila River, New Mexico’s rivers and streams are the lifeblood of the state’s economy, environment, cultural history, and quality of life.”

A packraft on the Gila River.

As a former Clevelander who lived not too far from Lake Erie, I admittedly took water for granted for much of my life. That’s not possible here—and I feel better for it, taking pleasure in an unexpected spring rainstorm, rooting for snowpack in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, listening to the gurgle of an acequia, and cozying up to our streams, rivers, and wetlands and all the joys they hold.

That’s just part of the reason I’m thankful for outdoors writer Elizabeth Miller’s first-hand account of her canoe and stand-up paddleboard trips along the Middle Río Grande to better understand the state of the river, its habitats, and the various plants, animals, and places that need it to survive. The feature package also highlights ways for you to gain a better appreciation for our most vital resource, whether that means hiking to the headwaters, swimming in Santa Rosa’s Blue Hole (and enjoying an agua fresca afterward), employing ancient gardening practices, or learning through art.

Thankfully, state leaders are already working on ways to protect the waterways left vulnerable by the high court’s decision. But there’s much work left to be done, on many fronts, so that we may all continue to enjoy the benefits that healthy waterways provide.

Read more: Facing threats from climate change, population shifts, and even the U.S. Supreme Court, our waterways and their advocates are finding new ways to restore the habitat, protect endangered species, and let it flow to all.