EL PASO, TX (KTSM) – The New Mexico Environmental Department fined El Paso Water $1.2 million dollars for releasing 1.1 billion gallons of raw sewage into the Rio Grande in Sunland Park, as first reported by the Associated Press.

State compliance orders were given Thursday to El Paso Water, requiring that they (El Paso Water) fix the problems that caused the illegal diversion and clean up the impacted areas.

Authorities say El Paso Water illegally discharged up to 10 million gallons of raw wastewater daily into the river just upstream of the Courchesne Bridge since last August, according to the Associated Press. They say sewage traveled downstream along the New Mexico-Texas border for nearly 2 miles and the illegal discharge didn’t stop until January of 2021.

EP Water issued a statement on Thursday:

El Paso Water places the highest priority on the health and safety of residents and our surrounding community.  The utility made every effort to expedite the replacement of the more than a mile of pipeline and clean up the impacted area. We acted in coordination with state and federal regulatory agencies, including EPA, TCEQ and NMED.  We are currently reviewing the Administrative Compliance Orders issued by the New Mexico Environment Department and will take any necessary and appropriate actions.

-El Paso Water

Update

The New Mexico Environment department is fining El Paso water 1.2 Million dollars. This comes after El Paso Water failed to let New Mexico know that they were dumping sewage water into the Rio Grande.

John Rhoderick, the director for water protection in New Mexico says they want what is best for the borderland.

“you know our chief goal and concern is ensuring that the groundwater and surface water of New Mexico and new Mexico residents is protected and you know indirectly we want the same thing for the state of Texas,” said Rhoderick.

He says they have not seen any issues with the drinking water but there could be concern on private water wells.

EP water has some time to respond back to New Mexico and request a hearing. If they take too long it is automatically assumed they agree to their terms and will pay the fine.

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