New Mexico issues $1.2 million fine over discharge of raw sewage into Rio Grande river

El Paso Water, others continue sewage clean-up before Rio Grande runs in  June - El Paso Matters

A Texas water company has been fined more than $1 million by the state of New Mexico for illegally dumping more than a billion gallons of raw sewage into the Rio Grand River.

The New Mexico Environment Department announced it issues Administrative Compliance Orders and fines of $1.2 million to El Paso Water for the discharge of 1.1 billion gallons of raw sewage into the river in Sunland Park, New Mexico.

El Paso Water is under orders to fix the problems that caused the illegal diversion and cleanup the impacted areas. Beginning August 27, 2021, El Paso Water diverted untreated sewage in a dry reach of the Rio Grande River. El Paso Water illegally discharged six to ten million gallons of raw wastewater per day into the river just upstream of Corchesne Bridge at the Doniphan Outfall.

The raw wastewater travelled downstream along the New Mexico-Texas border for approximately 1.9 miles. The illegal discharge did not cease until January 10, 2022, a total of 136 days. El Paso Water never reported the unauthorized discharge to the NMED, in violation of the Water Quality Act and Water Quality Control Commission regulations.

“El Paso Water’s flagrant disregard for the health and welfare of New Mexicans in Sunland is astonishing,” said Environment Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “We are holding this polluter accountable for their malfeasance and will not stop doing so until the damage is corrected and El Paso Water can assure the New Mexico Environment Department such a discharge will not happen again.”

The ACO’s assess a civil penalty of $1,284,375; require the immediate implementation of security and cleanup actions to mitigate the potential hazards to human health; and require development and submittal of corrective action plans. The ACO’s also require corrective actions to assess potential future impacts to the health and environment.

Source: press release