A final decision by New Mexico’s environment secretary on a permit application for a sewage lagoon to be constructed at a proposed RV park seven miles northeast of Aztec has been delayed again, the Farmington Daily Times reported.
A statement on Friday (Nov. 14) confirmed the delay until Dec. 12 for a decision on the permit application, which originally was filed with the state Environment Department’s Ground Water Quality Bureau in May 2013. Applicant Tom Payne plans to create an RV park. The permit would allow 2,240 gallons of domestic wastewater to be collected in an open-air, evaporative lagoon that the proposed park’s 60 RV spaces could produce per day.
“Due to several pressing matters, the secretary was unable to complete his review of the record in this matter,” the statement, issued on Friday, reads.
The delay was the second time a final decision by Environment Department Secretary Sean Flynn, an appointee of Gov. Susana Martinez, has been postponed.
Jim Winchester, spokesman for the department, offered no explanation for Friday’s delay, nor for the Sept. 15 delay.
Winchester wrote in an Oct. 23 email that a final decision by Flynn would be delayed two months from the original Sept. 15 deadline.
An April 23 report by Hearing Officer Felicia Orth following a second public hearing and 30-day public comment period was released by the department on July 30.
In it, Orth recommended Flynn approve the permit application. Area residents who attended the hearing and offered testimony to protest the permit cited public health hazards and a high risk of the lagoon spilling over and polluting nearby irrigation ditches and the Animas River. Orth concluded opponents’ claims of the lagoon posing a “hazard to public health” were insufficient and “undue risk to property” or “quality of life concerns” like odor or mosquito infestation were failed complaints that are beyond the department’s jurisdiction within the context of a permit application.
“I recommend that the discharge permit be issued as requested,” Orth said in her report. “The speculative concerns (raised by permit opponents) do not constitute substantial evidence upon which to base permit denial.”
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