Environment department reaches settlement with High Lonesome Dairy near Hobbs for groundwater violations

(Santa Fe, NM)
– The New Mexico Environment Department reached a settlement with High
Lonesome Dairy near Hobbs
for groundwater discharge permit violations.

The settlement resolves a
compliance order the department issued on Nov. 3 to the owner of the dairy,
Eddie Schaap. That order alleged that Schaap failed to install a monitoring
well that would detect and monitor groundwater conditions beneath the dairy,
which is located at W. 2515 Stiles
Road in Lea
County.

State Water Quality Control Commission regulations require dairy owners
to install monitoring wells to detect whether pollution prevention measures at those
facilities protect public health, groundwater and surface water. The state
Water Quality Act and state regulations allow the department to assess civil
penalties for violations of those rules.

“Dairies must
follow state regulations to protect groundwater from contamination,” said
New Mexico Environment Department Water and Waste Management Division Director
Marcy Leavitt. “We have found that approximately 65 percent of dairies in
New Mexico
have caused groundwater contamination, so it is important that those facilities
have proper monitoring systems. Fortunately, the dairy subsequently installed a
well to detect pollution.”

The dairy generates and
discharges agricultural wastewater from a milking parlor and storm water runoff.
The settlement, which includes a penalty of $3,000, resolves violations of the
state Water Quality Act and Water Quality Control Commission regulations.

Schaap began installing
the well Nov. 19 and completed that process by Dec. 8. The installation of the
well was a requirement of the state permit for the dairy, which lies near
several residences with drinking water wells. The new monitoring well was installed
50 feet hydrologically downgradient of a clay-lined lagoon. The well has shown
that groundwater downgradient of the lagoon is contaminated in excess of state
water quality standards. The dairy voluntarily committed to submit an abatement
plan for that groundwater contamination.