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New Mexico
Environment Department
Air Quality Bureau

Dona Ana County, New Mexico

Introduction

Doña Ana County is 3,804-square-miles in the south-central section of New Mexico with a population of 174,682. Doña Ana County borders El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. This area is considered part of the Paso del Norte air shed, which includes El Paso County, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. This region of the state has historically had air quality problems, including particulate matter and ozone pollution.

There is presently one nonattainment area within Doña Ana County. In Anthony, NM, which lies on the border of Texas and New Mexico, there is a particulate matter 10 microns or less in size (PM10) nonattainment area. This area was designated nonattainment for PM10 by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1991.

In 1995, the EPA declared a 42 square-mile region in the southeast corner of the County on the border of Texas and Mexico as a marginal nonattainment area for the 1-hour ozone standard. The nonattainment area included the City of Sunland Park, Santa Teresa, and La Union, New Mexico. The 1-hour ozone standard was revoked by EPA in 2004 with the adoption of the new 8-hour ozone standard. Due to the revocation of the 1-hour ozone standard, Sunland Park was redesignated to maintenance for the new 8-hour ozone standard.

In March of 2008, the federal government lowered the NAAQS for ozone from 0.08 parts per million (ppm) to 0.075 (ppm). Due to the lowering of the federal standard, Governor Richardson recommended that Sunland Park, NM (including the communities of Santa Teresa and La Union) be designated as nonattainment of the new 8-hour ozone standard. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never acted on that recommendation due to their reconsideration of the 0.075 standard. No areas of Doña Ana County are currently nonattainment for ozone.

Click here for a map of the Sunland Park maintenance area or the Anthony nonattainment area.

For additional information on air quality in the border region, see Dave duBois’ blog at http://nmborderaq.blogspot.com/. Dave is New Mexico’s State Climatologist.

Exceptional Events Demonstrations

Exceptional Events Demonstrations and responses from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can be found on our Exceptional Events Demonstrations web page. 

Dust Open House

On September 2, 2009, the Air Quality Bureau held an open house in Las Cruces to provide information and request feedback on a potential dust control regulation.

Nonattainment Plans

2007 Sunland Park Ozone Maintenance Plan

Other Nonattainment Plans

The Natural Events Action Plan

In recent years, Doña Ana County has not met the federal ambient air quality standards for PM10. These high levels of PM10 are largely due to dust storms throughout the area. While much of the dust in the Doña Ana County area is caused by natural events such as high wind speeds and ambient dry conditions, man-made dust sources are on the increase as the County becomes more populated and development increases.

In December of 2000, a Natural Events Action Plan (NEAP) for Doña Ana County was submitted to EPA for review. The focus of the NEAP is to control man-made sources of wind blown dust. This plan includes agreements between primary stakeholders (such the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department and New Mexico State University) and the State of New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), dust ordinances on both the city and county level, educational outreach tools, documentation of exceedances, and tools to minimize the public’s exposure to PM10.

2005 Reevaluation of Natural Events Action Plan

2005 Reevaluation of Doña Ana County Natural Events Action Plan

2000 Natural Events Action Plan

2000 Doña Ana County Natural Events Action Plan

Other NEAP Documents

Return to Main Windblown Dust Page

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