Privy / Outhouse in New Mexico

Started by hpinson, March 02, 2012, 02:48:11 PM

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For now anyway  (03/02/12), a privy is allowed in New Mexico. Here are the New Mexico Administrative Code rules.
Search for "privy" here:


C.            Unlined privy pits shall provide a clearance of no less than four (4) feet of suitable soil from the bottom of the excavation to the seasonal high ground water table, the seasonal high water flow, impervious formation or other limiting layer.

NMAC             PRIVIES:

A.            A privy or outhouse may be used to dispose of non-liquid-carried human excreta directly to the soil.  In addition to all setback and clearance requirements in 20.7.3 NMAC, the following conditions are required.

(1)     The privy or outhouse is constructed to prevent access by flies or vermin.

(2)     The privy or outhouse is located to prevent flooding.

(3)     There is sufficient replacement area for two (2) additional pits.

(4)     Privy or outhouse pits shall be filled with clean earth when excreta accumulate to within one foot of the ground surface.

(5)     No privy or outhouse shall be located on a lot less than 0.75 acre.

B.            No person shall install or have installed a privy or outhouse unless that person obtains a permit issued by the department prior to construction of such installation.  At the time of application, the total number of privies or outhouses and their replacement locations shall be indicated.  When a privy or outhouse pit is filled, the privy or outhouse may be moved to a previously identified replacement location on the same lot without modifying or amending the permit.

Documentation requirements appear to be:

Completed/ granted New Mexico Environement Department "Application for a Liquid Waste Permit or Registration".

Instructions for completion:

Also include:

-- Copy of Warrenty Deed

-- Copy of Tax Record/ Reciept

-- Copy of Current Plat

-- Siteplan

-- Plat or Siteplan modified to show privy location, 2 alternate locations for future use, boundary offsets, distance from wells/ water features, direction of gradient flow.

All sent to the district field office. 

The field office may send some suggested plans for the privy.

An inspection is required upon completion. 4' soils requirment (, offsets from water sources seem to be the big things they are looking for.


I think it's been about the same for a while. As far as my memory goes that's the same as it was when I looked into it a few years ago. Good to hear nothing has changed.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


I was told initially by a NMED staff that privies were not allowed in the state, at all.  After meeting with you guys at Quarters, I did a little more research and talked to some different folks at NMED, who were actaully quite helpful and encouraging.  Far as I can tell though, sawdust composting "humanure" toilets are still a no-no. Shame, because they are hard to fault.

Does anyone know of a state where sawdust composting toilets are legal? I'd like to find some precidents, and introduce the concept to a local legislator who is friendly to sustainability ideas (like with greywater disposal, a few years back, and which is now allowed in NM).


No idea on that. But if I wanted a humanure setup, I suppose one could begin the outhouse thing, all nice and legallike, if everything else is being permitted and approved, then start using a 5 gallon bucket on the sly. It could always be disposed of in the privy if it came to that. I never said any of that and I wouldn't ever consider doing that on my own. Just for discussion sake. A lot may depend on the neighbors. Mine have unpermitted outhouses. Very nice ones too I must admit.

I found the process on the internet with the help of Google; never talked to anyone.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


For discussion's sake, where is the "Like" button in SMF?

Interesting topic-- even to the Gates Foundation:

And the research is is just starting to become publically available. I've not read any of it yet, but hopefully something comes out of it.

Small steps-- grey use was taboo in this state only a few years back!