AZTEC — A landowner who wants to build an RV park north of Aztec has submitted a revised version of a discharge permit application that would allow construction of a sewage lagoon on the property.
A notice published Nov. 21 started a 30-day period for interested parties to contact the state Environment Department to comment on the permit and/or request a public hearing on the sewage lagoon that is proposed for the Payne RV Park.
Tom Payne, who owns the property where the park and sewage lagoon would be built, first applied for the New Mexico Ground Water Quality Bureau permit on May 17. The Payne's property is located at 16747 Highway 550, roughly 7 miles northeast of Aztec.
According to the proposed permit, the state's environment department is authorized to "control the discharge of water contaminants from the Payne RV Park (facility) into ground and surface water, so as to protect ground and surface water for present and potential future use as domestic and agricultural water supply and other uses and protect public health."
Efforts made last week and Monday to reach the Payne's designated spokesperson for comment were unsuccessful.
During a public meeting in July, area residents raised concerns over the 2,240 gallons of domestic wastewater containing dissolved solids the proposed park's 60 RV spaces could produce per day. More than 50 people showed up. Concerns over the stench produced by the lagoon, vulnerability of the lagoon to wildlife damage and overflow caused by flooding from heavy rains were among the possible impacts raised at the meeting.
Language in the updated permit application posted online at the state's Ground Water Quality Bureau website referred to the lagoon only as an "impoundment."
"The new draft uses generalized language. Different words mean different things to different people," said Gerald "Jake" Knutson, environmental scientist for the Environment Department and technical reviewer for the proposed lagoon. "A lagoon, a pond, an impoundment -- they all mean the same thing."
Another change in the application is the location of the lagoon itself, moved from the low-lying northwest corner of the Payne property to the northeast corner, closer to U.S. Highway 550.
A handful of area residents promised to continue their protest against the proposal no matter where the lagoon would be located on the Payne's property.
Mary Girardi, who lives in the Dutchman's Hill subdivision near Cedar Hill, plans to write the Environment Department to express her concerns over the proposed lagoon and request a second public hearing on the revised permit.
Girardi is part of a group called "Stop the Lagoon" that is collecting signatures from nearby residents for a petition to oppose the plans for sewage disposal on the Payne property. Copies of the petition are available at NAPA Auto Parts, 206 N Main Ave. in Aztec, and at Burritos y Mas, 16875 Highway 550, just north of Aztec.
"I'm a little disgusted that they've waited for people to be super busy with the holidays to make a lot of noise," Girardi said. "I don't believe the lagoon will be anything less than a problem and if you remember the rains in September, a potential disaster."
Girardi said she would prefer the Paynes use an underground storage tank that can be pumped out instead of an evaporative lagoon.
James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.