Dairy cows for Sierra Club article on regulations on dairy farm water quality

By Dan Lorimier, Chapter Conservation Coordinator

The New Mexico Citizens Dairy Coalition has been busy monitoring not only the dairy industry, but its regulators.

In addition to the Rio Grande Sierra Club, the dairy coalition includes clean-water and workers-rights organizations as well as animal-advocacy groups and community members living near dairies. It was convened in 2009 to help craft water quality and permitting rules for the dairy industry.

With a comprehensive set of regulations tailored to the dairy industry now in place, the Citizens Dairy Coalition now serves as New Mexico’s dairy-industry watchdog organization.

The New Mexico Environment Department is proposing changes to the water-quality regulations that contain the dairy rule. While we agree with some of the proposed changes, especially those changes that bring New Mexico into compliance with federal water-quality standards, there are some changes to the protocols the agency uses to administer the rule that are very troubling and relate directly to the dairies.

To strengthen our presence and impact on this process, the coalition is holding a training in Anthony, N.M., an epicenter of drinking-water pollution caused by a concentration of dairies up gradient from the town. We will update residents on the status of the plan that was put in place several years ago to attempt a groundwater cleanup in the area. We will also explain the proposed changes to the state’s water-quality rule and point out those areas of concern for local residents.

Then, in November, the coalition will supply transportation and lodging in Santa Fe for those Southern Doña Ana County residents who want to give public testimony to the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) at its hearing on the proposed changes.

The WQCC is the state panel that rules on whether to adopt the changes to the water-quality rule. The commission is scheduled to consider these changes at a hearing on Nov. 14-16 in Santa Fe.

If you are interested in testifying at the Water Quality Control Commission hearing or if you would like to attend the Anthony training, please contact Dan Lorimier at
daniel.lorimier@sierraclub.org.

We would also very much appreciate any and all donations to the Coalition’s transportation and lodging fund. To donate, please contact Dan at the above email address.

Dairy group is industry watchdog