State of New Mexico > Environment Department > Surface Water Quality Bureau

Surface Water Quality Bureau
Water Quality Standards
The 2013 Triennial Review

20.6.4 NMAC

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The federal Clean Water Act (CWA) related regulations in 40 C.F.R. Part 131 and the provisions in the New Mexico Water Quality Act (Chapter 74, Article 6 NMSA 1978) require the State to develop, review, revise and adopt water quality standards (WQS) that protect public health or welfare, enhance the quality of water, and serve the purposes of the CWA. New Mexico’s Standards for Interstate and Intrastate Surface Waters (20.6.4 NMAC) (WQS) consists of designated uses for surface waters of the State, the water quality criteria necessary to protect the uses, and an antidegradation policy to protect the water quality.

While the WQS may be revised as needed, the CWA at 33 U.S.C. §1313(c)(1), and the water quality standards rules at NMAC also require the State to initiate a comprehensive review and to update the WQS rules from time to time, or at least every three years, in a process known as the Triennial Review.

Kris Pintado
Standards Coordinator
(505) 827-2822


The Surface Water Quality Bureau (SWQB) began identifying priorities for the current Triennial Review in 2012 and initiated the 2013 Triennial Review with an informal scoping phase for public feedback during April and May of 2013 to identify priorities for potential changes to the WQS. Proposals for changes were developed into a discussion draft which was noticed for public review and comment during April and May of 2014.

During comment periods for both the scoping phase and public discussion draft, the SWQB received input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), watershed/river conservation groups, municipalities, water districts, industrial/trade groups, private organizations and citizens. All timely comments received have been compiled in alphabetic order (by commenter name) and are available online. The SWQB’s responses to public comments are filed as Exhibit 8 and Exhibit 9 in the Triennial Review Pleading Log Item 20, also available online.

Throughout the Triennial Review process, SWQB met and worked with groups when it was requested to discuss their concerns. As a result there were significant changes to SWQB proposals in Sections NMAC and NMAC. However, all changes proposed by SWQB are shown in Pleading Log Item 58, available online.

The SWQB presented its final 2013 Triennial Review proposals to the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) in public hearings held October 13-16, 2015. Approval of proposals by the WQCC is pending and the earliest date for a decision is anticipated in January 2016. Once approved by the WQCC, these changes will be submitted to EPA for final approval under CWA Section 303(c).

WQS proposals under consideration by the WQCC include:

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Segment-specific standards for aquatic life protections in the Mimbres and San Juan River basins;

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A new temporary standards provision in NMAC;

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Updates to the piscicide provision in NMAC for applications under the EPA permit program and for public input or hearing requests when applications are not covered under an EPA permit;

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Primary contact uses and criteria updates for nine segments based on CWA requirements and the most recent EPA recommendations;

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Listing of ephemeral waters under Section NMAC pursuant to Subsection C of Section NMAC; and

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Clarifications of criteria applicability, updates to methods and corrections of grammatical errors.

The SWQB appreciates the public participation, comments and contributions received throughout the 2013 Triennial Review process.


The TRIENNIAL REVIEW petitions and proposed amendments are docketed as WQCC 14-05 (R) and may be viewed on the Department’s website at or during regular business hours by contacting Pam Castaneda, Commission Administrator, 1190 S. St. Francis Drive, Room S-2102, Santa Fe, New Mexico, (505) 827-2425.


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