The New Mexico Environment Department announced Thursday that it received proposals to investigate contaminated groundwater found at two dairies in Dexter.
The owner of Cheyenne II and Wild West Farms Dairies, David Hoekstra, submitted abatement plans in March and April after previous samples of soil and groundwater detected maximum concentrations of nitrate, chloride and total dissolved solids, double or triple the amount set by state quality standards, according to a NMED press release.
The Stage 1 Abatement Plans proposals, which define the extent of soil and groundwater pollution at a contaminated site, suggest collecting more soil and groundwater samples, installing additional monitoring wells and sampling supply wells near the two dairies, situated just a few miles apart on East Calusa and East Anasazi roads, the statement read.
Officials say previous sampling at Cheyenne II detected nitrate levels of 21 mg/l, double the New Mexico groundwater quality standards, which is 10 parts per million for nitrate; chloride levels of 280 mg/l, which exceeds the state standard of 250 mg/l; and that TDS levels were five times higher than state standards allow (5,300 mg/l of TDS, when the state standard is 1,000).
Sampling at Wild West Farms also detected three times the recommended amount of nitrate (30 mg/l), double the amount of chloride (580 mg/l) and nine times the amount of TDS (9,700 mg/l). New Mexicoâ€™s Water Quality Control Commissionâ€™s regulations require responsible parties to remediate groundwater pollution.
Ray Montes, of the NMED Ground Water Quality Bureau, says the department originally mandated Hoekstra to submit stage one abatement plans for Cheyenne II last September and for Wild West Farms in September of 2008.
Both plans were granted time extensions, and NMED received proposals from Wild West Farms on April 22, and from Cheyenne II on March 21 of this year, Montes said.
Phone calls to Hoekstraâ€™s residence on Thursday afternoon went unreturned, but NMED geoscientist Sara Arthur says groundwater at the Wild West Farms has been contaminated since 2002.
â€œAnalytical results submitted by Wild West Farms (formerly SDR Dairy) from these ground water samples confirm that ground water at the facility has exceeded the standard of 10 mg/liter for nitratenitrogen since 2002,â€ Arthur wrote in an email.
Montes says the source of the contamination on both dairies is unknown at this point in the investigation, and that the NMED will likely approve or disapprove the stage one abatement plans by the end of June.
Once Stage 1 is complete, Hoekstra will have to submit a Stage 2 Abatement Plan for each dairy, specifying how to clean up the pollution that was identified in Stage 1.
The public will have an opportunity to comment on the Stage 2 Plan and may also request a hearing.
The department will seek public comment within 90 days of receiving the plan. Montes noted that high nitrate levels is a common problem for dairies because cow manure contains high amounts of nitrogen, which can oxidize and turn into nitrate.
Ground Water Quality Bureau records show groundwater contamination for 65 percent of the dairies in the state. Montes also added it was the first time the state required either of the two dairies to submit abatement plans.