The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) needs the public’s help in reporting and identifying illegal dumping into water bodies.
Last week, Picuris Pueblo found evidence of raw sewage in the Rio Pueblo, including toilet paper and other solids. Within an hour, the Pueblo restricted access to the river as a precautionary measure. After the Pueblo contacted NMED, Surface Water Quality Bureau and Pueblo staff jointly sampled the river at the Pueblo and several miles downstream.
Preliminary results indicate that levels of E. coli in the Rio Pueblo are at normal levels and below water quality standards of both the State and the Pueblo. Currently, the Rio Pueblo is open and safe for recreation.
The presence of E. coli in water is a strong indication of recent sewage or animal waste contamination. Some E. coli bacteria can cause disease, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever.
Although the source of the spill has not been identified, it appears to be the result of an illegal discharge into the Rio Pueblo. Picuris Pueblo is offering a $500 reward to anyone who identifies the party responsible for the spill.
In New Mexico, discharging any water contaminant without a permit is a 4th degree felony.
NMED depends on involved citizens to assist in holding violators accountable. NMED and Picuris Pueblo encourage anyone who witnesses suspicious activities in the environment to contact NMED’s environmental incident hotline at 1-800-219-6157 (toll free) or file a report at https://www.env.nm.gov/general/report-an- environmental-issue-or-incident/.