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NM Environment Department brokers dairy deal


July 14, 2011
By New Mexico Environment Department

NEWS HIGHLIGHT

NM Environment Department brokers dairy deal
The New Mexico Environment Department recently
announced a major agreement had been reached between state dairy industry
representatives and various environmental citizen groups on new rules to
regulate discharges to ground water at New Mexico dairy facilities.

July
14, 2011, Santa Fe, NM – The New Mexico Environment Department recently
announced a major agreement had been reached between state dairy industry
representatives and various environmental citizen groups on new rules to
regulate discharges to ground water at New Mexico dairy facilities.

The
New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) brokered the deal in early July
between the Dairy Industry Group for a Clean Environment (DIGCE), Amigos
Bravos
, Caballo Concerned Citizens, and the Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter.

The
amended Dairy Rule will continue to require all dairies to install monitoring
wells. It also requires both new dairy facilities and dairies that have had
leaking impoundments to install synthetic liners, while allowing greater
flexibility for dairy owners in the day-to-day management of their farms.

Along
with the synthetic liner and monitoring well requirements, the amended Dairy
Rule will allow existing dairies whose impoundments have not contaminated
groundwater to continue to operate without installing new impoundments. The
amended Dairy Rule also contains operational, monitoring, and contingency
requirements that are designed to prevent contaminants from reaching ground
water and provide for early detection if a release does occur.

The
amended Dairy Rule will now go to the Water Quality Control Commission to
consider the changes at a public hearing. If approved, the amended Dairy Rule
would take effect 30 days after being filed with the State Records Center. It
is expected that this process will be completed before the end of the year.

The
Dairy Producers of New Mexico (DPNM) played an active role in the negotiations.
“We worked for consensus to achieve two critical goals: to preserve this state’s
vibrant dairy industry and protect groundwater in neighboring areas,” said DPNM
executive director Beverly Idsinga. “We are pleased this agreement accomplished
both.”

NMED’s
Ground Water Quality Bureau and Office of General Counsel worked for six months
with industry representatives and citizen groups to draft revisions to the
existing Dairy Rule. A new agreement resolves DIGCE’s concerns over existing
Dairy Rule regulations while still being protective of ground water.

The
existing Dairy Rule was adopted by the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC)
in December 2010 in response to a 2009 amendment to the Water Quality Act
requiring the WQCC to adopt regulations setting forth specific rules for the
dairy industry to monitor ground water quality and to prevent ground water
pollution. Past practices at some dairy facilities had resulted in extensive
contamination of ground water.

However,
DIGCE filed a Notice of Appeal to the Court of Appeals on January 21, 2011
seeking judicial review of the rule.

Dairy
Farmers of America (DFA)
, a nationwide farmer-owned milk marketing cooperative
with a strong membership in New Mexico, also applauded the efforts of all
involved in the amended Dairy Rule. 

“This
has been a long beneficial process for all parties,” DFA representative and
former New Mexico Lieutenant Governor Walter Bradley said. “With the advent of
the new administration putting all their effort in a science with common sense
valuation to protect our water, all of us benefited.”


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