EPA Orders Albuquerque Racetrack to Stop Discharges to Protect Rio Grande

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued an order to halt discharges of animal waste, industrial run-off and other pollutants into the Rio Grande.  The action was taken against the Downs at Albuquerque Inc. and EXPO New Mexico, a 93-acre race track and casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that accommodates almost 1,400 horses during racing season.

“Companies must operate in a way that protects vital water resources,” said EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz.  “When a facility fails to meet its responsibilities, the EPA will work closely with our state partner agencies to enforce the law.”

On Nov. 15, 2011, the New Mexico Environmental Department (NMED) conducted an on-site inspection and found that the facility did not have a properly designed storm water runoff containment structure.  The facility also does not have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit which allows facilities to discharge to waters of the U.S.  

Pollutants commonly associated with animal waste or manure often include nitrogen and phosphorus, organic matter, bacteria and sediments.  These pollutants can clog rivers and streams with algae, kill fish by reducing oxygen in the water, transmit waterborne diseases and impair the enjoyment of waterways.

To comply with the order, the Downs and EXPO New Mexico must immediately take all necessary actions to prevent future discharges of pollutants into U.S. waters and notify the EPA of any discharges of pollutants from the facility into waters of the U.S.