Roosevelt dairy ordered to form groundwater cleanup plan

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

The New Mexico Environment Department has ordered a second dairy in Roosevelt County to come up with a plan for cleaning up contaminated groundwater.

According to a news release from the department, La Jolla Dairy northwest of Portales has submitted a Stage 1 Abatement plan to address soil and groundwater pollution on its property.

In 2004 and last October, amounts of nitrate, chloride and total dissolved solids were discovered exceeding state limits, said NMED environmental scientist Chris Whitman.

Telephone calls to La Jolla Dairy weren’t returned.

Bonestroo Dairy was notified of a high level of nitrate in its groundwater last July and submitted a plan to further investigate the problem in September.

Nitrate can cause blue baby syndrome, a possibly fatal condition in which infants don’t have enough oxygen in their blood.

Whitman said chloride and total dissolved solids — a collection of substances that leave a residue when water is evaporated — don’t pose human health hazards.

At high enough concentrations, dissolved solids can make water taste bad and chloride can make the water unusable for irrigation, he said.

The contaminants were found in a monitoring well at the south end of the dairy’s wastewater storage pond, Whitman said.

Whitman said additional investigation is needed to determine the source of contamination.

La Jolla’s abatement plan lists nitrate levels at 30 parts per million, as opposed to the state standard of 10 parts per million, according to the news release.

The plan showed 325 parts per million of chloride, instead of the limit of 250 parts per million, and 1,515 parts per million of total dissolved solids, with the standard set at 1,000 parts per million, according to the release.

Dairy wastewater contains the contaminants, but isn’t the only source of them.

The Stage 1 Abatement Plan sets out actions to determine the source and extent of contamination, and the Stage 2 Abatement plan outlines cleanup.

La Jolla has submitted the first plan, which the department must approve before the process can proceed to stage 2, Whitman said.

As for the Bonestroo Dairy, Whitman said the owners were notified in January that their Stage 1 plan didn’t meet requirements and they would have to modify it.

“On Feb. 21 the dairy’s consultants emailed a request for an additional 30 days to propose revisions to the modified proposal,” Whitman said. “The department is considering the request.”

Bonestroo Dairy owner Gary Bonestroo has said a feedlot contaminated the property before the dairy moved there, and he has been cleaning it up for 20 years.