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Artesia remains under water boil advisory; Water Department says city system contaminated with E. coli bacteria

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The city of Artesia is warning residents not to drink or use water from the city’s water system without boiling it first after E. coli bacteria was found in the city’s water system last weekend.

The Artesia Water Department said fecal coliform, or E. coli bacteria, were found in the water supply Saturday. The bacteria can make people sick and are a concern for people with weakened immune systems.
The Water Department advised residents to drink bottled water and to boil water before using any water from the city’s water supply system. Only boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation until further notice, the Water Department said.
Water should be boiled for at least a minute and allowed to cool before using. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water.
The Water Department said it is switching to an alternate drinking water source, and increasing sampling for coliform bacteria to determine the source of the contamination.
“We will inform you when tests show no bacteria and you no longer need to boil your water,” the Water Department said in a drinking water warning posted on the city’s website Saturday. “We anticipate resolving the problem within one week.”
The Water Department said bacterial contamination can occur when increased runoff enters the drinking water source, such as following heavy rains. It can also happen due to a break in the distribution system pipes or because of a failure in the water treatment process.
Fecal coliforms and E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicate that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches and other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children and people with severely compromised immune systems.
For more information about Artesia’s water status, call Jennifer Estrada at 575-513-1864 or Byron Landfair at 575-746-9821, or visit the Artesia Water Department at 612 N. Roselawn Ave. in Artesia.

No problems in Roswell
Art Torrez, Roswell’s utilities director, said between Roswell’s source of water and frequent testing, Roswell water is as safe to drink as ever.
“For Roswell, our recharge area is the artesian aquifer that fills underground from the Lincoln area,” Torrez said. “Our wells vary from 300 to 500 feet deep. In theory, with a source that deep, there shouldn’t be any contamination.”
Torrez said Roswell tests water all over town regularly.
“We run 50 samples a month,” he said. “They’re all over the city. Some are homes, some are businesses, some are schools, some are all over.
“Not only do we sample for bacteriological, we sample for chemicals. The city water supply system is relatively free of pollutants.”
Torrez said Roswell takes extra precautions.
“Typically, there shouldn’t be any type of fecal or E. coli contamination in the wells,” he said. “But as a secondary precaution, we’re running 0.6ml/l total chlorine. All personnel involved have to be certified by the state Environment Department.”
Features reporter Curtis M. Michaels can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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