Illegal dumping proves costly for New Mexico | KOB 4

Illegal dumping proves costly for New Mexico

Crews removed 157 tons of trash from this caliche pit in Lea County Crews removed 157 tons of trash from this caliche pit in Lea County |  Photo: State Land Office

Marian Camacho
January 02, 2018 10:48 AM

SANTA FE, N.M. - It’s a costly problem in New Mexico, the illegal dumping of trash and other materials on state lands. Now, State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn is going after illegal dumping in caliche pits in Lea County, New Mexico.


Caliche pits are created when the caliche, or decomposed limestone soil, is extracted from the ground. The caliche is used as road pavement and in well pads for drilling activity.

The pits have become an attraction for trespassers who dump trash, hazardous materials, appliances, furniture and even decaying animal carcasses.

The State Land Office says that creates a health hazard and devalues State Trust Lands.

Just last month, officials removed 157 tons of trash and 1.4 tons of tires from a 2.35-acres pit in Lea County at a cost of $54,894.

In another instance, crews removed 10 tons of trash and 1.5 tons of tires from a 10.52-acre pit, which cost $33,430. 

“Remediating caliche pits reduces the health and safety risk to nearby communities and restores the land to a more usable state,” said Commissioner Dunn.  “Revenues earned on these particular sites support public schools, so it is vital that these lands are reclaimed so that they may generate revenue for New Mexico schoolchildren.”

In Fiscal Year 2017 alone, crews removed more than 550 tons of waste from 11 caliche pits covering 114 acres of State Trust Lands in Eddy and Lea counties. In total, the waste removal came at a cost of $340,000. 


Marian Camacho

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