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FARMINGTON – A New Mexico Environment Department spokeswoman said only one San Juan County company is left to become certified in pumping septic tanks.

Since May, the department has been trying to get septic pumping companies in the county to complete a certification process. The department has identified 18 septic pumping companies in the county.

This month, OE Septic, RL Marcy Enterprises and Animas Septic Service, formerly known as Animas Waste & Water, became certified with the department, spokeswoman Allison Scott Majure said. She said the last septic pumping company in the county that needs to become certified is now Diaz Septic.

Majure said in an email that “Diaz Septic was issued a compliance order with a $100 fee for failure to certify on a timely basis. All other San Juan County septic pumpers are now certified.”

The department began enforcing the certification after the San Juan Soil and Water Conservation District and the San Juan Watershed group released a study that found significant human fecal pollution in the county’s rivers.

Some officials say leaking septic systems are the cause; others blame illegal dumping.

David Diaz, who recently left Diaz Septic to start his own business, D & E Septic Service, said he didn’t become certified with the state earlier because he had trouble with a website when he tried to take a required online test. He said he then tried to call the department numerous times, but he and officials kept missing each other. When he finally got an official on the phone, the department was dealing with the spill of 3 million gallons of toxic waste water into the Animas River from the Gold King Mine in Silverton, Colo., he said.

“So I kind of blew it off,” he said.

But Diaz obtained a certification last week for his new businesses, he said.

Majure said in an email that the department is working with the company “to bring them into full compliance in connection with issues arising as the business changes hands.” The Daily Times was unsuccessful in an attempt to reach the company's current owner.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606.

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