The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Commission hears dairyman's concerns


January 6, 2019

CLOVIS — A Clovis dairyman on Thursday once again addressed the Clovis city commission with his latest appeal for help in recovery from water contaminated by neighboring Cannon Air Force Base.

Art Schaap conceded there wasn’t much the city could do with the matter, but did ask if it could help to put pressure of the New Mexico Environment Department and the Department of Defense since the discovery of PFOS/PFOA on more than half of his wells.

The commission took no action.

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoiac Acid (PFOA) were present in a firefighting foam widely used by the military since the 1970s and subsequently determined to pose risks to human health.

Schaap said the chemicals do plenty of damage to his cows, as well. He’s dumping the milk the cows produce because he can’t sell it, and he can’t sell the cattle to be processed into beef.

The issue, Schaap said, is that the Air Force won’t undo the damage it’s done to his business because policy only requires it address human consumption of water.

“I just want them to be responsible for this problem; it doesn’t fit in their box,” Schaap said. “They’re only doing what they have to do. They’re hiding behind the law.”

When asked where he was dumping his milk, Schaap said it is going into his lagoon to prevent any contamination. He surmised that if the shoe was on the other foot, and his dairy was contaminating the water supply at Cannon, he would be facing plenty of consequences.

Schaap said one guy by himself going against the federal government wasn’t too important, but a larger-scale effort by area officials could help his cause.

Questions given to Cannon’s public affairs office were directed to the Air Force Special Operations Command public affairs office. Mark Kinkade of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center said the subject was “fairly complex” and he was working with his team to provide a more detailed answer in the coming days, but noted Air Force actions are based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s health advisory established for drinking water sources.

Mayor David Lansford said Schaap was certainly in a tricky spot, and surmised filing a lawsuit may be necessary to get justice — and Lansford said he doesn’t know anybody who isn’t on Schaap’s side on the issue.

“You’re important, and you deserve to be made whole,” Lansford said. “How that (happens) ... is still left to be determined.”

New state representative-elect Martin Zamora, who was at the meeting just to introduce himself to the commission, said it was a tough thing to watch his longtime friend go through.

“It makes you hurt inside to see it,” Zamora said. “I can feel the pain he’s going through; hopefully, we can all help him in some way or another.”

In other business at the Thursday meeting:

• The commission agreed to purchase software from Ecolane USA for the Clovis Area Transit System. Under the system, Information Technology Director Paul Nelson said, passengers could book rides online or through a smartphone app, and the software would do its best to create a route that matches their travel plans and time windows.

Director Mary Lou Kemp said she didn’t know when the system would be online, and discussions are still ongoing.

• Clovis Aquatic Center Director Kathleen Jeffs was recognized as distinguished supervisor of the quarter. She has worked with the city for 7 1/2 years, Parks and Recreation Director Mark Dayhoff said.

Dayhoff said Jeffs treats her staff as a family in operation of the aquatic center, Potter Park Pool and Hillcrest Park splash pad.

“She always tells me how much she loves her job,” Dayhoff said, “and it definitely shows in the way she manages our three aquatics facilities.”

The distinguished line employee of the quarter was Cynthia Fogerson of the Clovis Fire Department. She did not attend the meeting.

• Design of a fuel island for the Clovis Municipal Airport was approved. The design from Argus Consulting will cost $54,750 from $200,000 already set aside for the project.

The city hopes to gain more revenue from fuel sales once the island allows for self-service filling.


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