Peralta business owner denies dumping waste

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Peralta Town Clerk Julie Pluemer claims a local day care violated a nuisance abatement ordinance by dumping what officials and residents claim was raw sewage onto its playground.

Pluemer said town officials were called to Peralta's Playhouse Child Care and Pre-School on Sept. 9 after residents claim they saw the owner, Lawrence Jaramillo, pumping out wastewater onto the playground of the center.

Sara Greenwood, of the Bosque Gardens Mutual Domestic Water Association, said she saw Jaramillo use a pump to dump wastewater onto the playground area where young children play each day.

She said a lot of people don't understand the harmful effects of unloading materials that host amoebas and other bacteria.

She claims Jaramillo dumped the material out on a Sunday when no one was around and was "hiding from (residents)" when they tried to confront him. She said he opted to solve the problem himself rather than spending a few hundred dollars to have a company pump the septic tank.

"(Kids) are playing on a playground irrigated with toilet water," Greenwood said.

In an interview, Jaramillo said he was landscaping his property and he left the water on overnight. He said the tank wasn't filled with wastewater, but instead from grey water from a washing machine.

He said he came back the next day and the tank was about to overflow from a hose being on all night.

"I panicked because I didn't want it to flood," Jaramillo said.

Jaramillo said a couple of hundred gallons of grey water was dumped on the west of the building.

"I understand their concerns," Jaramillo said. "I told them what I was trying to prevent."

Bill Chavez, district manager for the state Environmental Health Division, said the environment department is in the process of drafting a letter that will be sent to the business owner. He said the letter amounts to a warning.

Chavez said an inspector came to the property the day after the complaint was issued and said they did not see wastewater dumped.

Grey water can only be used in certain conditions and Chavez said the owner verbally agreed to discontinue pumping out grey water.

Pluemer, who was recently given authority to issue citations for planning and zoning violations, said she would wait until the New Mexico Environment Department was done with its investigation before deciding what to do about the nuisance abatement violation.

Residents said they thought Jaramillo waited to dump the material out on a Sunday so he wouldn't get caught.

"You can't just dump wastewater ― especially onto a playground," Pluemer said.

Dick Wayne, the town's public safety administrator, said he has suspected the business had dumped wastewater onto the property on more than one occasion.

He said town officials have smelled "an ongoing stench and smell" coming from the business, which sits directly west of the town hall.

Some residents don't seem satisfied with Jaramillo's verbal agreement.

Greenwood said people can be exposed to viruses from wastewater. She said Jaramillo was reluctant to pay a company to pump the septic tank.

"He was doing it himself to save money," Greenwood said.


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.