Water company fined $1.2M for sewage discharge in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Environment Department announced Thursday that it has fined El Paso Water $1.2 million for allegedly discharging more than 1 billion gallons of raw sewage into the Rio Grande in Sunland Park.

The state compliance orders also require El Paso Water to fix the problems that caused the illegal diversion and clean up the impacted areas.

Environment Department officials said El Paso Water illegally discharged up to 10 million gallons of raw wastewater daily into the river just upstream of the Courchesne Bridge since last August.

They said sewage traveled downstream along the New Mexico-Texas border for nearly 2 miles and the illegal discharge didn’t stop until January.

El Paso Water is accused of not reporting the unauthorized discharge to state environmental officials in violation of the Water Quality Act and Water Quality Control Commission regulations.

Discharges of untreated sewage typically contain bacteria and viruses known as pathogens, which can cause diseases like cholera, giardia and hepatitis A, according to health officials.

A call to El Paso Water seeking comment on the fine wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.

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