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NMED Requests Public Comments

PUBLIC NOTICE - NMED Requests Public Comments

Environment Department Requests Public Comment on a Report Supporting
Water Quality Standards Changes to Smelter Tailings Soils
Investigation Unit Drainages within the Chino Mine Investigation Area,
Grant County, New Mexico

The Department is requesting public comment on a report that may be
used to support amendments to surface water quality standards for five
drainages within the Chino Mine Investigation Area, Grant County, New
Mexico. The amendments would change the drainages to unclassified
ephemeral waters subject to §20.6.4.97 NMAC, from their current
status as default unclassified nonperennial waters subject to
§20.6.4.98 NMAC.

Unclassified nonperennial waters are by default subject to
§20.6.4.98 NMAC, with designated uses of marginal warmwater aquatic
life, primary contact, wildlife habitat, and livestock watering. In
November, 2012, Chino Mines Company provided a report to the
Department, Application of the Hydrology Protocol to Smelter Tailings
Soils Investigation Unit (STSIU) Drainages. The Department has
reviewed the report, which includes a Use Attainability Analysis (UAA)
based on the Department’s “Hydrology Protocol”, and finds it
demonstrates that that Clean Water Act §101(a)(2) uses of primary
contact and marginal warmwater aquatic life are not attainable in five
STSIU drainages, and that the highest attainable uses are limited
aquatic life and secondary contact.

In accordance with 20.6.4.15.C, the Department is releasing this
report for a 30-day public review which will end at 5 PM on February
14, 2013. After consideration of public comments, the Department may
proceed by submitting the report and response to comments to EPA
Region 6 for technical approval. If EPA grants approval, the waters
will be considered unclassified ephemeral waters subject to
§20.6.4.97 NMAC. The report and UAA, the technical approval, and the
applicability of §20.6.4.97 NMAC to the waters will be posted on the
Department’s water quality standards website. The Department will
periodically petition the Water Quality Control Commission to list
ephemeral waters under Subsection C of §20.6.4.97 NMAC and to
incorporate changes to classified segments in the water quality
standards regulations as appropriate.

The report, Application of the Hydrology Protocol to Smelter Tailings
Soils Investigation Unit (STSIU) Drainages (November 2012) is
available on the Environment Department’s website at
http://www.nmenv.state.nm.us/swqb/Standards
under “ESSENTIALS…” Comments may be submitted by mail to Kris
Pintado at the New Mexico Environment Department, Surface Water
Quality Bureau, P.O. Box 5469, Santa Fe, NM 87502, or by email to
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. <mailto:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;

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