RAPID/BulkTransmission/New Mexico/Water Quality

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

New Mexico Bulk Transmission Water Quality Assessment(14-NM)

Developers may be required to obtain several permits related to water quality issues, including permits for nonpoint source pollution, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting, and Section 401 water quality certification.

Developers must comply with New Mexico’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Management (NPS) Program if their project will impact priority watersheds or impaired waters. The NPS program helps New Mexico meet water quality standards and achieve the goals of the Clean Water Act. The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) is the lead agency for developing, implementing, and coordinating the NPS Management Program. NMED’s State Water Quality Bureau establishes total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for priority watersheds and impaired waters. TMDLs establish separate maximum acceptable loads for nonpoint sources of pollution. Developers are required to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) for the project; which may be structural or non-structural.

Developers must comply with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) requirements if their project will discharge pollutants into the waters of the United States, which includes wetlands. New Mexico has been granted authority by the Environmental Protection Agency to administer the NPDES program within the state. New Mexico’s role in the NPDES process is to ensure that NPDES-permitted projects comply with state water quality standards outlined in NMAC 20.6.4 through NMED. The EPA will develop a draft NPDES permit for the project then give it to NMED for review to ensure compliance with state water quality standards. If NMED approves the permit, then a Final Certification will be issued to the developer. [1]

New Mexico does not have authority to issue construction storm water permits under NPDES. However, the Surface Water Quality Bureau, within NMED, assists the EPA in the regulation of storm water discharges by performing inspections on behalf of the EPA and serving as the local point of contact for providing information to operators and other agencies regarding the federal regulatory program.

Developers requiring a Section 404 Dredge and Fill Permit, which covers impacts to wetlands and other waters of the United States and is administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers, are required to obtain a Section 401 Water Quality Certification from the state of New Mexico. NMED may issue or deny 401 Water Quality Certifications for dredge and fill activities. [2] NMED must ensure that the project will comply with state water quality standards, including the antidegradation policy, and applicable statewide water quality management plans. Developers must apply for 401 Water Quality Certification with NMED on forms provided by the Department. NMED may determine that a public hearing is required for the application. [3]

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

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List of Reference Sources

  1. NMAC 20.6.2 Ground and Surface Water Protection (2001). 2001(G)
  2. NMS 74-6-4 Duties and Powers of the Water Quality Control Commission (2009).
  3. NMAC 20.6.2 Ground and Surface Water Protection (2001). 2002.I
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