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

Surface Water Quality Bureau
Monitoring, Assessements & Standards
Total Maximum Daily Loads

for the Sacramento Mountains
[Rio Hondo, Tularosa, and
Rio Peñasco Watersheds]

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The Rio Peñasco below Helena Road - 2012

The watersheds in the Sacramento Mountains are located in south-central New Mexico, USA.   The Surface Water Quality Bureau (SWQB) conducted its most recent water quality surveys of the region from April to October, 2012.

Water quality monitoring stations were located within the Rio Hondo, Tularosa, and Rio Peñasco watersheds to evaluate the impact of tributary streams and ambient water quality conditions. As a result of assessing data generated during this monitoring effort, impairment determinations of New Mexico water quality standards (WQS) included:

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E. coli in Carrizo Creek (Rio Ruidoso to Mescalero Apache boundary), Rio Bonito (NM 48 near Angus to headwaters), Nogal Creek (Tularosa Creek to Mescalero Apache Boundary), Rio Ruidoso (Eagle Creek to US Hwy 70 bridge) and Rio Ruidoso (US Hwy 70 bridge to Carrizo Creek);

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Plant nutrients in Rio Ruidoso (Eagle Creek to US Hwy 70 bridge) and Rio Ruidoso (US Hwy 70 bridge to Carrizo Creek);

Heidi Henderson
Assessments & TMDL Team
(505) 827-2901

WQCC Approval Order
EPA Approval Letter
EPA Approved TMDL

Bulleted item Sacramento Mountains AMENDED Field Sampling Plan - 2014
Bulleted item Use Attainablilty Analysis for Stream Reaches Identified as Ephemeral through Application of the Hydrology Protocol
- 2013
Bulleted item Sacramento Mountains Field Sampling Plan - 2012
Bulleted item TMDLs for the Rio Hondo Watershed - 2006
Bulleted item E. coli
Bulleted item Plant nutrients
Bulleted item Temperature
Bulleted item Turbidity
Bulleted item Tularosa Closed Basin Watershed Stream Survey
- 2004
Bulleted item Rio Peñasco Stream Survey
- 2003
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Total phosphorus in Rio Ruidoso (Carrizo Creek to Mescalero Apache boundary); and

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Turbidity in Agua Chiquita (perennial portions McEwan Canyon to headwaters), Rio Peñasco (Hwy 24 to Cox Canyon), and Rio Ruidoso (Eagle Creek to US Hwy 70 bridge).

This TMDL document addresses the above noted impairments as summarized in the tables found in the Executive Summary.  The 2012 field studies identified other potential water quality impairments that are not addressed in this document due to additional data needs, assessment protocol revisions or re-application, or impending use attainability analyses.  If additional impairments are verified or found, subsequent TMDLs will be developed for those impairments.  SWQB prepared TMDLs in 2006 for portions of these watersheds including: TMDLs for E.coli on Carrizo Creek, Rio Bonito, and Rio Hondo; as well as TMDLs for plant nutrients, temperature, and turbidity on the Rio Ruidoso.

A TMDL is a planning document that establishes specific goals to meet water quality standards in waterbodies where pollutant limits are exceeded. It includes current pollution loadings, reduction estimates for pollutants, information on probable sources of pollution, and suggestions to restore or protect the health of the waterbody.

A public meeting was held to summarize the information and to provide a forum for interested parties to ask questions and provide comments. The meeting date allowed the public time to review the document and generate questions or comments. The meeting was held in Ruidoso on Thursday, June 16 from 6-8pm at the Village of Ruidoso Council Chambers, 313 Cree Meadows Drive.

A 30-day comment period on the initial draft of this document opened July 7, 2014 and closed on August 7, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. MDT.  All Public Comments that were submitted to SWQB staff have been responded to and included as an additional appendix in the Final Draft which was submitted to the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) for their approval at their August 11, 2015 regular public meeting.  The WQCC approved the TMDLs on August 11, 2015 and EPA Region 6 approved the TMDLs on September 21, 2015.

The SWQB’s Monitoring, Assessment & Standards Section is scheduled to collect water quality data in the Sacramento Mountains again in 2020.  TMDLs will be re-examined and potentially revised at those times as this document is considered to be an evolving management plan.  In the event that the new data indicate that the targets used in the analyses are not appropriate and/or if new standards are adopted, the TMDLs will be adjusted accordingly. When attainment of applicable water quality standards has been achieved, the impairment will be removed from New Mexico’s CWA §303(d) List of Impaired Waters (“§303(d) List”).

The SWQB’s Watershed Protection Section will continue to work with watershed groups to develop Watershed-Based Plans (WBPs) to implement strategies that attempt to correct the water quality impairments detailed in this document. Implementation of items detailed in the WBPs will be done with participation of all interested and affected parties.

For more information, please contact Heidi Henderson of the Assessments & TMDL Team directly (see above).  The SWQB fax number is (505) 827-0160.

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