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Kirtland mobile home park owner faces $265,000 in fines from NMED over sewage concerns


Hannah Grover   | Farmington Daily Times

KIRTLAND — The owner of a mobile home park in Kirtland faces more than $265,000 in civil penalties after allegedly failing to properly manage and dispose of sewage.

The New Mexico Environment Department says the disposal of sewage into 11 septic tank leach fields without being in compliance with the Water Quality Act has placed groundwater and public health at risk.

NMED issued an administrative compliance order on Jan. 8 requiring Marisela Ornelas, the owner of Vision Mobile Home Park, to take steps to address the situation and to come into compliance with water protection laws. NMED has instructed Ornelas to submit a plan to connect to the Valley Water and Sanitation District's nearby sewer system and to install groundwater monitoring wells that will help assess the possible contamination. The mobile home park is located on Road 6367 in Kirtland.

“Compliance with discharge permits is a legal obligation this Department takes seriously,” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney in a press release announcing the administrative compliance order. “The Environment Department will hold Vision Mobile Home Park accountable for endangering public health and its complete disregard of protecting groundwater.”

The order is addressed to a Marisela Ornelas with a post office address in Cortez, Colorado. The Daily Times has reached out to Ornelas through an email address listed on the administrative order.

According to the administrative order, this is not the first time NMED has taken action against the mobile home park. The administrative compliance order outlines a history of actions dating back to 2011 that the department has taken. The required actions listed in the Jan. 8 administrative order are all things that NMED has previously asked the mobile home park to take to address the issues. 

In 2011, the department also issued an administrative order for “multiple, unaddressed violations.” At the time, the mobile home park was discharging without a permit, according to the new administrative order.

The owner filed for a discharge permit in 2012 and entered into a settlement agreement with NMED that same year. The settlement agreement reduced the civil penalties assessed on the condition that the mobile home park would adhere to the requirements of the discharge permit.

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This permit, issued in October 2012, required the owner to “install three monitoring wells, perform semi-annual groundwater sampling, perform annual wastewater sampling and submit all analytical results, as well as discharge volumes, in semi-annual monitoring reports to NMED,” the administrative compliance order states.

NMED alleges that the owner failed to comply with those requirements and the discharge permit expired in October 2017.

While the permit expired in 2017, the mobile home park continued to discharge waste into 11 septic tank leach fields. The discharge permit was reissued in 2019 on the condition that the mobile home park owner would submit a plan to connect into the Valley Water and Sanitation District’s sewage system or submit documentation illustrating why that would not be possible. This documentation was due by June 7, 2020, but NMED states it never received the plan.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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