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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

New Mexico Ground Water Discharge Permit (14-NM-e)

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) issues Ground Water Discharge Permits in the state of New Mexico. No person may cause or allow discharges into ground water unless discharging pursuant to a permit issued by NMED pursuant to the requirements contained in 20.6.2 of the New Mexico Administrative Code. When a permit is issued, discharges must be consistent with the terms and conditions of the permit.


Ground Water Discharge Permit Process

14-NM-e.1 to 14-NM-e.2 – Is the Discharge Exempt from Permitting Requirements?

If the developer’s project falls within the exemptions listed under NMAC 20.6.2.3105, then a Ground Water Discharge Permit is not required.

The following discharges do not require permits:

  • Effluent or leachate which conforms to all the listed numerical standards of NMAC 20.6.2.3103 and has a total nitrogen concentration of 10mg/l or less, and does not contain any toxic pollutant;
  • Effluent which is discharged from a sewerage system used only for disposal of households and other domestic waste which is designed to receive and which receives 2,000 gallons or less of liquid waste per day;
  • Water used for irrigated agriculture, for watering of lawns, trees, gardens or shrubs, or for irrigation for a period not to exceed five years for the re-vegetation of any disturbed land area, unless that water is received directly from any sewerage system;
  • Effluent which is discharged to a watercourse which is naturally perennial; discharges to dry arroyos and ephemeral streams are not exempt from the discharge permit requirement;
  • Those constituents which are subject to effective and enforceable effluent limitations in a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, where discharge onto or below the surface of the ground so that water contaminants may move directly or indirectly into ground water occurs downstream from the outfall where NPDES effluent limitations are imposed, unless the Secretary of NMED determines that a hazard to public health may result;
  • Discharges resulting from flood control systems;
  • Leachate which results from the direct natural infiltration of precipitation through disturbed materials, unless the secretary determines that a hazard to public health may result;
  • Leachate which results entirely from the direct natural infiltration of precipitation through undisturbed materials;
  • Leachate from materials disposed of in accordance with the Solid Waste Management Regulations adopted by the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board;
  • Natural ground water seeping or flowing into conventional mine workings which re-enters the ground by natural gravity flow prior to pumping or transporting out of the mine and without being used in any mining process;
  • Effluent or leachate discharges which are regulated by the Oil Conservation Commission and the regulation of which by the Water Quality Control Commission would interfere with the exclusive authority granted under NMSA 70-2-12.

14-NM-e.3 – Notice of Intent to Discharge

The developer is required to file a Notice of Intent to Discharge form with NMED. The notice must state the following information:

  • The name of the person making the discharge;
  • The address of the person making the discharge;
  • The location of the discharge;
  • An estimate of the concentration of water contaminants in the discharge; and
  • The quantity of the discharge. NMAC 20.6.2.1201(C).

14-NM-e.4 – Provide Notice that a Permit is Required

NMED is required to notify the developer if a discharge permit is required within 60 days of submitting the Notice of Intent to Discharge. NMAC 20.6.2.3106.

14-NM-e.5 – Proposed Discharge Plan

The developer is required to submit a Discharge Plan to NMED within 120 days following receipt of notice that a permit is required. NMAC 20.6.2.3106(A). A proposed Discharge Plan must set forth in detail the methods or techniques the developer intends to use or processes expected to naturally occur that will ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. NMAC 20.6.2.3106(C).

The proposed Discharge Plan must include at least the following information:

  • Quantity, quality and flow characteristics of the discharge;
  • Location of the discharge and of any bodies of water, watercourses and ground water discharge sites within one mile of the outside perimeter of the discharge site, and existing or proposed wells to be used for monitoring;
  • Depth to and TDS concentration of the ground water most likely to be affected by the discharge;
  • Flooding potential of the site;
  • Location and design of site(s) and method(s) to be available for sampling, and for measurement or calculation of flow;
  • Depth to and lithological description of rock at base of alluvium below the discharge site if such information is available;
  • Any additional information that may be necessary to demonstrate that the discharge permit will not result in concentrations in excess of the standards of NMAC 20.6.2.3103 or the presence of any toxic pollutant at any place of withdrawal of water for present or reasonably foreseeable future use; and
  • Additional detailed information required for a technical evaluation of underground injection control wells as provided in NMAC 20.6.2.5000 through NMAC 20.6.2.5299.

14-NM-e.6 – Review Proposed Discharge Plan

NMED is required to review the proposed Discharge Plan within 120 days of receipt of written notice that a discharge permit is required. NMAC 20.6.3106(A).

14-NM-e.7 – Is the Discharge Plan Approved?

If NMED does not approve the Discharge Plan, then the developer may amend the plan and re-submit the plan to NMED.

14-NM-e.8 – Application for Permit to Discharge

The developer is required to submit an Application for Permit to Discharge to NMED. The application includes:

  • Operational plans;
  • Monitoring plans;
  • Contingency plans;
  • Closure plans; and
  • Site information.

14-NM-e.9 to 14-NM-e.10 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

NMED is required to review application materials for completeness within 15 days of receiving the application. To be considered complete the application must include all requirements in NMAC 20.6.2.3108(F)(1)-(5) and must indicate, for NMED approval, the proposed locations and newspaper for providing notice. NMAC 20.6.2.3108(A).

NMED must notify the developer in writing when the application is deemed administratively complete. If the application is not administratively complete, then NMOCD must notify the developer of any deficiencies in the application within 15 days of receipt of the application. NMAC 20.6.2.3108(A).

14-NM-e.11 – Provide Public Notice of Application

The developer is required to provide public notice of the application within 30 days of NMED declaring the application administratively complete. This notice must be provided in each of the following methods:

  • For each 640 contiguous acres or less of a discharge site, prominently posting a synopsis of the public notice at least 2 feet by 3 feet in size, in English and Spanish, at a place conspicuous to the public, approved by NMED, at or near the proposed facility for 30 days;
  • Providing written notice of the discharge by mail, to owners of record of all properties within a 1/3 mile distance from the boundary of the property where the discharge site is located; if there are no other properties within a 1/3 mile distance, the developer must provide notice to owners of record of the next nearest adjacent properties not owned by the developer;
  • Providing notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the owner of the discharge site if the developer is not the owner; and
  • Publishing a synopsis of the notice in English and in Spanish, in a display ad at least three inches by four inches not in the classified or legal advertisements section, in a newspaper of general circulation in the location of the proposed discharge. NMAC 20.6.2.3108(B).

The required notice must include the following information:

  • The name and address of the proposed discharger;
  • The location of the discharge, including street address, if available, and sufficient information to locate the facility with respect to surrounding landmarks;
  • A brief description of the activities that produce the discharge described in the application;
  • A brief description of the expected quality and volume of the discharge;
  • The depth to and total dissolved solids concentration of the ground water most likely to be affected by the discharge;
  • The address and phone number within NMED by which interested persons may obtain information, submit comments, and request to be placed on a facility-specific mailing list for future notices; and
  • A statement that NMED will accept comments and statements of interest regarding the application and will create a facility-specific mailing list for persons who wish to receive future notices. NMAC 20.6.2.3108(F).

14-NM-e.12 – Affidavit of Publication

The developer is required to submit to NMED proof of notice, including an affidavit of mailing and the list of property owner(s), proof of publication, and an affidavit of posting within 15 days of completion of public notice requirements. NMAC 20.6.2.3108(D).

14-NM-e.13 – Provide Notice of Completed Application

NMED is required to post a notice on its website and must mail notice to any affected local, state, federal, tribal or pueblo governmental agency, political subdivisions, ditch associations and land grants. Notice is required within 30 days of determining an application for a discharge permit is administratively complete. NMAC 20.6.2.3108(E).

14-NM-e.14 – Comment on Application

NMED is required to provide an opportunity for public comment on the application for at least 30 days following notice of completed application. Any person may submit written comments or request a public hearing on the proposed decision. NMAC 20.6.2.3108(K).

14-NM-e.15 to 14-NM-e.18 – Is there a Request for a Public Hearing?

Requests for a public hearing must be in writing, and must set forth the reasons why a public hearing should be held. A public hearing will be held if NMED determines that there is substantial public interest. NMED must notify the developer and the individual that requested the public hearing in writing of the decision whether such hearing will be held and the reasons for it. NMAC 20.6.2.3108(K).

If there is a request for a public hearing, then NMED is required to provide public notice of the hearing at least 30 days before the hearing. The notice must indicate why NMED is holding the hearing. NMAC 20.6.2.3108(L).

The public hearing must be conducted at a place in the area affected by the facility for which the discharge permit is sought. NMAC 20.6.2.3110(B). Any person may present technical evidence for the public hearing, but must submit such evidence to NMED at least 10 days prior to the public hearing. NMAC 20.6.2.3110(C). At the hearing, all persons must be given a reasonable chance to submit data, views or arguments orally or in writing and to examine witnesses testifying at the hearing. NMAC 20.6.2.3110(F).

14-NM-e.19 – Develop Preliminary Decision on Discharge Permit

NMED is required to develop a preliminary decision on whether to approve, approve with conditions, or deny the permit application within 60 days after the determination that the application is administratively complete. NMAC 20.6.2.3108(H).

14-NM-e.20 – Provide Notice of Proposed Decision on Permit

NMED is required to provide public notice of the proposed approval or disapproval of the application. The notice must include any conditions required for approval or the reasons for disapproval.

The required notice must include the following information:

  • The name and address of the proposed discharger;
  • The location of the discharge, including street address, if available, and sufficient information to locate the facility with respect to surrounding landmarks;
  • A brief description of the activities that produce the discharge described in the application;
  • A brief description of the expected quality and volume of the discharge;
  • The depth to and total dissolved solids concentration of the ground water most likely to be affected by the discharge;
  • The address and phone number within NMED by which interested persons may obtain information, submit comments, and request to be placed on a facility-specific mailing list for future notices; and
  • A statement that NMED will accept comments and statements of interest regarding the application and will create a facility-specific mailing list for persons who wish to receive future notices. NMAC 20.6.2.3108(F).

14-NM-e.21 – Comment on Proposed Permit Decision

NMED is required to provide an opportunity for public comment on the proposed permit approval for at least 30 days following notice of the proposed decision. Any person may submit written comments or request a public hearing on the proposed decision. NMAC 20.6.2.3108(K).

14-NM-e.22 to 14-NM-e.25 – Is there a Request for a Public Hearing?

The procedures for conducting a public hearing following the proposed permit decision is the same as with a completed application outlined in element 14-NM-e.15 to 14-NM-e.18.

14-NM-e.26 – Does NMED Approve the Permit?

NMED may approve, approve with conditions, or deny the Ground Water Discharge Permit.

14-NM-e.27 – Appeal Decision on Permit Denial

The developer may choose to appeal NMED action on an application for a Ground Water Discharge Permit. NMAC 20.6.2.3113.

14-NM-e.28 – Ground Water Discharge Permit

NMED must approve, approve with conditions, or disapprove the draft Ground Water Discharge Permit within 30 days after the administrative record is complete. NMAC 20.6.2.3109(B).




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