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New Mexico Nonpoint Source Pollution (14-NM-a)

Nonpoint source pollution (NPS) is recognized as the greatest contributor to surface water pollution in New Mexico. To deal with this problem, New Mexico has established the NPS Management Program. The NPS Management Program develops dynamic programs and progressive actions to prevent NPS pollutants from entering both surface and groundwater. This helps New Mexico meet its water quality standards and achieve the goals of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The Surface Water Quality Bureau (SWQB) is the lead bureau within the New Mexico Environment Department in developing, implementing, and coordinating NPS management and works with several state, federal, and local agencies to carry out projects to protect surface water from NPS. Within the SWQB, the Watershed Protection Section carries out the NM NPS Management Program. The cornerstone of the NPS program is grant funding and technical assistance to the public to aid in the development of Watershed-based Plans (WBP) to address water quality impairments in watersheds for which a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) has been established. Each WBP details Best Management Practices that could be implemented to create a measurable decrease in pollutant loading within a given watershed. With an EPA-approved WBP in place, grant funding can be obtained from the SWQB to implement BMPs. If a WBP BMP is part of development, developers could apply for BMP implementation funding to offset development costs.

Nonpoint Source Pollution Process

14-NM-a.1 – Determine which Watershed is Impacted by the Project

The NPS Management Program is a watershed-based plan. This means that the developer must determine which watershed is implicated by the project in order to obtain nonpoint source pollution requirements.

14-NM-a.2 to 14-NM-a.3 – Determine TMDLs and BMPs applicable to the Watershed

NMED’s State Water Quality Bureau establishes total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for priority watersheds and impaired waters in New Mexico. TMDLs establish separate maximum acceptable loads for nonpoint sources of pollution. The developer must contact NMED to determine TMDL requirements for their project.

NPS pollution controls are typically established through implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) that can be structural and nonstructural. Structural practices include diversions, temporary sediment basins, fencing, and other constructed means of reducing pollutant loading to surface water and groundwater. Nonstructural practices relate to resource management techniques, such as timing and rate of fertilizer or pesticide application. Selection of the appropriate BMP for a particular project is done on a case-by-case basis, and will be described in the appropriate watershed plan.

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