Liquid Waste (Septic Tank) Program
Our mission is to protect public health, safety and water quality by ensuring that on-site disposal of household sewage is done safely.
The Find an Existing Liquid Waste Permit tool searches the current Liquid Waste Database. You can customize your search to find a liquid waste permit by owner, address, city, TRS, and other parameters. Once you find the permit you are searching for, you can click on the Result bullet, and then the Select button. A replicate permit will appear which can be printed (there may be limitations on this function, depending on your browser).
NMED is requesting $1 million in funding that would be deposited into the Liquid Waste Disposal System Assistance Fund. This request, if approved by the 2013 legislature, would allow NMED to eliminate public health and safety hazards at approximately 122 indigent households throughout New Mexico who are at risk of injury from cesspools and other dangerous liquid waste systems.
The Liquid Waste Program has issued qualification requirements for septage pumpers in accordance with liquid waste regulation 188.8.131.524.D NMAC. Effective January 15, 2013, at least one qualified person must be onsite during every septage pumping operation. Links to lists of qualified pumpers: List by Name List by Location
Information is available through the Office of the State Engineer, Water Use and Conservation Bureau on how to fix leaks for household plumbing fixtures. Leaks are a common cause of septic tank drainfield failures. Even a small leak can overload the drainfield enough to cause sewage to come to the ground surface, causing a public health threat and unpleasant odors. Go to the Fix a Leak Program Website for information and resources on fixing plumbing leaks.
Accidental deaths related to cesspools; see Cesspools Are Dangerous and Illegal.
A letter rescinding the Notice of Non-enforcement of Section 904 has been issued.
Infiltrator Systems, Inc. filed Closing Argument and Proposed Statement of Reasons on December 19, 2012
The Liquid Waste Program filed Closing Argument, Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law on
December 19, 2012
Infiltrator Systems, Inc. filed Rebuttal Testimony on October 22, 2012.
The Liquid Waste Program filed Rebuttal Testimony on October 22, 2012.
The Liquid Waste Program has filed Additional Material including modifications to the previously filed petition
The Liquid Waste Program has filed written testimony and exhibits in support of petition EIB 12-01 (R). Follow the links below:
Infiltrator Systems, Inc. has filed a Notice of Intent to Present Technical Testimony in opposition to parts of EIB 12-01 (R).
The Liquid Waste Program has filed an amended petition EIB 12-01 (R) with the Environmental Improvement Board (EIB). A summary of the amendments to the original petition is posted here. The EIB hearing has been recessed and will continue on October 29-30, 2012. Public Notice
Prior to filing the petition, NMED held a series of public meetings around the state to obtain stakeholder input on what rule changes should be made. Click on the link for a copy of the slideshow presentation that was given at the public meerings.
The department proposes to create an Installer Specialist classification, and to conduct hydrogeologic mapping of areas where certain standards should not be applied since their imposition would not result in any improved protection of public health or water quality.
The Installer Specialist classification, if adopted, would require 16 hours of approved training, in addition to other qualifications. Click here for a list of training curricula that have been approved by NMED.
A presentation on a recent study of Groundwater Quality and Public Health is now available for download.
Regulation of septic systems by the State of New Mexico dates back as far as 1937. You can now download the historic regulations, amendments and policies by clicking on the links in the table below.
|Regulation Title||Adopting Agency||Date|
|Board of Public Health||6/28/1937|
|Board of Public Health||6/28/1937|
|Policy for Individual Water Supplies and Sewage Disposal Systems||Board of Public Health||9/27/1959|
|Liquid Waste Disposal Regulations||Environmental Improvement Division||9/14/1973|
|Liquid Waste Disposal Regulations||Environmental Improvement Board||8/7/1979|
|Liquid Waste Disposal Regulations Amendments||Environmental Improvement Board||1/30/1980|
|Liquid Waste Disposal Regulations||Environmental Improvement Board||10/10/1985|
|Liquid Waste Disposal Regulations||Environmental Improvement Board||2/1/1990|
|Environmental Improvement Board||
|Liquid Waste Disposal Regulations||Environmental Improvement Board||10/15/1997|
|Liquid Waste Disposal Regulations Amendments||Environmental Improvement Board||4/1/2004|
|Liquid Waste Disposal and Treatment Regulations||Environmental Improvement Board||9/1/2005|
|Liquid Waste Disposal and Treatment Regulations Amendments||Environmental Improvement Board||4/1/2007|
|Liquid Waste Disposal and Treatment Regulations Amendments||Environmental Improvement Board||11/21/2011|
The Liquid Waste Program has begun publishing technical information quarterly in the Septic Underground. These documents cover various topics related to the design, permitting and construction of onsite wastewater treatment and dispersal systems. Follow the link above to the webpage for Contractors, Inspectors and Homeowners for links to all editions.
In an effort to streamline the permitting process and ensure complete permit applications, NMED has adopted several new forms. In addition to a Liquid Waste Permit Application, applicants must complete and submit an Application Checklist and a Site Plan Drawing Checklist. These documents will provide applicants with checklists to verify that all the required information is included in their application to avoid delays caused by an incomplete application. A Variance Submittal Checklist is also required with variance applications.
The exemption for 0.5 acre lots in Section 301.F(4) of the Liquid Waste Disposal and Treatment Regulaitons, 20.7.3 NMAC, is no longer in effect. The exemption states that conventional systems are allowed:
"(4) for lots 0.5 acre to 0.75 acre on a public water system, not within a 200 foot radius of a public supply well and 101 feet to 600 feet to groundwater, the total design flow shall not exceed 450 gallons per day or the total design flow allowed in Subsection C of 184.108.40.2061 NMAC, whichever is greater, for 5 years after the effective date of these regulations;"
As of September 1, 2010, the five year exemption period has lapsed and permits for conventional onsite wastewater systems with the conditions above will not be accepted by NMED.
An Indigent Liquid Waste Assistance Project that will fund the elimination of cesspools and other substandard onsite wastewater systems serving indigent households in the Middle Rio Grande Basin (MRGB) has been launched by the Liquid Waste Program in collaboration with the Office of the Natural Resource Trustee. A Fact Sheet and Application Forms in English and Spanish are included in the link above. Additional background information on this Project is available here. Efforts to assist indigent households in other areas of New Mexico are ongoing. A presentation about the indigent program, titled Onsite Wastewater Assistance Program for Indigent Households in New Mexico is now available for download. Contact the Liquid Waste Program Manager, Dennis McQuillan, if you have any questions. Dennis is available by email at Dennis.McQuillan@state.nm.us or by phone at 505-476-8607.
A representative of the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) made a presentation to the Wastewater Technical Advisory Committee at its March 189, 2010 meeting about the NSF certification process for onsite products.
- A requirement for resilient connectors that meets all requirements of ASTM Standard C-923 on precast concrete septic tanks installed in New Mexico has been issued by NMED. A letter describing the new requirement was sent to all concrete tank manufacturers.
The Liquid Waste Program, in collaboration with the Wastewater Technical Advisory Committee, has developed a technical guidance for design of Low Pressure Pipe, LPP systems. This guidance describes standards that are acceptable to the Liquid Waste Program for the design of LPP systems. Designs based on other technical sources will also be considered, but on a case-by-case basis. For general information about LPP systems, see the EPA Technical Fact Sheet.
Technologies other than conventional septic tanks and drainfields are available for use on difficult sites or where conditions require a higher level of wastewater treatment. A summary of these technologies can be seen in the guidance document Alternative Technologies to a Conventional Treatment System.
- The USEPA has created a Website for Small Communities. It can be accessed at: http://www.epa.gov/owm/mab/smcomm/index.htm.
- NMED Field Office Training. Various topics are presented and discussed around New Mexico, and are available upon request for interested groups.
- The Advanced Treatment System Report has been updated. The new version of this report contains more data and information on specific advanced treatment systems. The October 2006 report is still available at: 2006 Advanced Treatment System Report
- Liquid Waste Environmental Geographic Information System (eGIS) (aquifer sensitivity maps, hydrogeologic mapping, much more).
- The Office of the State Engineer has adopted Well Drilling Regulations that require well drillers to comply with NMED regulations regarding setbacks from contamination sources such as septic systems. See 220.127.116.11.D NMAC. Liquid Waste Treatment and Disposal Regulations require a minimum 100-foot separation of private wells and onsite liquid waste disposal systems, and a minimum 200-foot separation of public wells and on-site disposal systems.
- Frequently Asked Questions