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Public Comment DRAFT UAA

Use Attainability Analysis for Four Unclassified Non-Perennial Drainages in the Membres & Tularosa Closed Basins and Rio Hondo and Rio Peñasco Watersheds
in Southern New Mexico, USA

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NMED-SWQB invited the public to comment on a Use Attainability Analysis (UAA) supporting proposed amendments to surface water quality standards (WQS) for four surface waters in Grant, Luna, Lincoln and Otero Counties in southern New Mexico. These specific waters include portions of San Vicente Arroyo, San Andres Canyon, Agua Chiquita and Grindstone Canyon.

The amendments would change these four waters to unclassified ephemeral waters subject to §20.6.4.97 NMAC. The current default status of these waters is unclassified nonperennial waters subject to §20.6.4.98 NMAC, with the designated uses of marginal warmwater aquatic life, primary contact, wildlife habitat, and livestock watering. This UAA demonstrates that primary contact and marginal warmwater aquatic life are not attainable in these waters, and that the most protective attainable uses are limited aquatic life and secondary contact.  The UAA is based on the NMED ’s Hydrology Protocol and follows the procedures described in Subsection C of 20.6.4.15 NMAC.

Deby Sarabia
Assessment & TMDL Planner
(505) 827-0417

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This DRAFT UAA concludes that four of the evaluated stream reaches in the Pecos River basin, Tularosa closed basin and the Mimbres closed basin are naturally ephemeral, and that the designated uses applicable to 20.6.4.97 NMAC are appropriate and attainable.  Attainment of the CWA §101(a)(2) uses for these ephemeral waters is not feasible due to the factor identified in 40 CFR 131.10(g)(2): natural, ephemeral, intermittent, or low flow conditions or water levels prevent the attainment of the use.  NMED-SWQB proposes these four stream reaches for inclusion in 20.6.4.97 C. NMAC as ephemeral waters.

After considering public comments, the SWQB may submit the UAA and response to comments to the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 (USEPA) for technical approval. If USEPA grants approval, the waters will be considered unclassified ephemeral waters subject to §20.6.4.97 NMAC.  The SWQB will petition the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) at a future date to add these waters to 20.6.4.97 C. NMAC.

The 30-day Public Comment Period on this document opened on August 14, 2013 and closed on September 13, 2013.

The UAA is now available on the NMED - SWQB website at
www.nmenv.state.nm.us/swqb/UAA. Comments submitted to NMED - SWQB, will be incorporated into the final DRAFT document for presentation before the WQCC during one of their regular public meetings.

For more information, please contact Deby Sarabia, SWQB's Assessment and TMDL Planner, at (505) 827-0417.

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