ARTESIA — The city of Artesia is again under a boil water alert following a water boil order in July that lasted more than a week.
City officials said the latest water boil alert, in compliance with New Mexico Environment Department’s Drinking Water Bureau, will remain in effect for all 14,000 customers served by the Artesia water system until further notice.
In a news alert posted to the city’s website Saturday, the city said it initiated the boil water alert at 3 p.m. Saturday. The city statement said a positive result for E. coli bacteria was found in one of eight routine water samples taken Wednesday. The city said it received the results Thursday.
The presence of E. coli indicates water may have been in contact with sewage or animal wastes, and could contain disease-causing organisms. Children, the elderly and immuno-compromised individuals are at an increased risk for illness.
“The state of New Mexico Environment Department was notified and a second round of samples was taken and sent to the lab on Friday,” said the city statement. “The test results on these samples were received (Saturday) confirming a positive result for E. coli. Consequently, the boil water alert has been initiated and will remain until all traces of E. coli bacteria are eradicated. Additional samples will be taken daily for testing until the issue is resolved.”
The city said while under the boil water alert, water used for drinking, cooking or for washing fruits and vegetables must be boiled for a minimum of a minute before using.
“The water remains safe for bathing, showering, watering plants and lawns and washing clothes,” the city statement says.
The city said ice made using water from the city water system should not be used.
“This includes residential ice makers as well as commercial and restaurant ice,” says the city statement. “Ice made using water from outside of Artesia should be safe for consumption.”
The city said Water Department personnel are working extended hours to identify and eliminate the source of the problem.
“Other city personnel are making contact with and monitoring senior citizen residents, nursing home facilities, meal site and daycare centers to assure these are following the alert procedure and have ample supplies of bottled water,” the city statement says.
The city said Artesia residents with hardships or who are unable to secure a water source should call 575-746-0267 for city personnel to respond.
The New Mexico Environment Department on July 24 lifted a water boil order for Artesia and nearby Morningside after E. coli bacteria was found in the Artesia municipal water system on July 15. The bacteriological contamination was initially found near the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, on the north side of Artesia.
For more than a week, residents of Artesia and members of the Morningside Water Users Cooperative were advised to boil water. Morningside, an unincorporated community of about 385 people on the northern border of Artesia, also tested positive for E. coli and fecal coliforms in July. Morningside receives all of its water from Artesia’s municipal water system.
Chlorine was introduced into water storage tanks in the Artesia water system in July. The city switched to an alternate drinking water source and increased sampling to determine the source of the contamination.
The Drinking Water Bureau lifted the July boil water advisory after testing from consecutive days indicated Artesia’s water was safe to drink.
While Roswell and Artesia share the same aquifer, there are no pipes connecting the water systems of the two cities.