4 Investigates: Storrie Lake sewage
LAS VEGAS, N.M. — A canal feeds right into Storrie Lake, one of northern New Mexico’s recreation destinations.
However, there’s reportedly been raw sewage spewing from a pipe directly into that canal.
“It’s hazardous to our health,” said a longtime resident who didn’t want to be identified, fearing retribution. “I was upset because seeing much of the sewage running like that, and then having clean water running and having it mix together – it caused contamination. So that was my main concern.”
The New Mexico Environment Department is in charge of discharge permits for the community.
“I immediately identified that it was an imminent threat to human health and the environment,” said Jason Herman, the acting program manager of the Pollution Prevention Section of the Ground Water Quality Bureau at the state’s Environment Department.
Herman estimates about 10,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled out as a the result of a leak.
“The vast majority of the sewage that was spilling out of there is going to actually soak into the ground under there,” Herman said.
KOB 4 wanted to know if any of that sewage actually made its way from that neighborhood to Storrie Lake. Store-bought kits showed some bacteria in our canal sample, but not much in our Storrie Lake sample.
“Through the videos, and through our investigations it does look like a large quantity, but its actually, in reality, a very small quantity when you compare it to the total volume in Storrie Lake,” Herman said. “The amount that could have potentially made it to the lake was a very small amount.”
Herman doesn’t believe lake visitors should be concerned, yet.
The bigger problem is that a letter sent to the Country Acres subdivision owners shows that the discharge permit for the property had been expired since 2017.
“My concern at this point is that the problem gets resolved,” said the woman who didn’t want to be identified. “I don’t want it to be bandaged up.”
Right now, state officials admit there is only a short-term fix. The pipe has been patched, but Herman said the spill was caused by a backup.
KOB 4 called the two men the notice was sent to about the expired permit. We left a message for David Jones, and Frank Gallegos told us he has nothing to do with the property.
However, it turns out he did respond to the state with a corrective action plan, saying he welded the pipe and cleaned up the area.
As for any long-term solution, the state said the plan submitted is inadequate. Residents hope the lack of real progress doesn’t create another threat to their health, or those who come from all over to enjoy the lake.