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Water troubles continue in Artesia

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Despite an E.coli red flag being raised during a recent City of Artesia water test, Artesia Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Crit Caton says students and personnel will report to their respective school today. (Mike Smith Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

ARTESIA — Here we go again!

That may be the reaction of some Artesia residents after a communication issued by the City of Artesia showed that a recent water sample tested positive for E.coli.

The media release stated on Tuesday that eight routine samples for the month of October were taken and sent to a lab in Hobbs. The samples were taken from random sites approved by state officials.

Artesia water personnel conducted a second set of samples that were retained at the water department. The release said the Artesia folks were using the same procedure as was used in Hobbs. One sample tested in Lea county was received late Wednesday afternoon and that was when the E.coli red flag was raised. None of the samples tested in Artesia showed positive according to the release. 

The New Mexico Environment Department was then contacted to discuss the testing results and to determine the next step. Three samples were taken Thursday and one was sent to Albuquerque, another to Hobbs and one was going to be tested in Artesia. The results are expected to be released this afternoon. 

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For now, Artesia officials say no boil water alert has been put in place. They’re expected to have a conference call with state officials sometime this morning to discuss possible results and alternatives that will be available.

This summer a boil water alert was issued after E.coli was discovered in the Artesia water system. Another one was issued last month and that prompted action from the Artesia Public Schools as kids missed a couple of days of classes.

“It’s business as usual at this point,” said APS Superintendent Dr. Crit Caton. 

There is one precaution that kitchen personnel are taking today, according to Dr. Caton. He said the cafeterias won’t be serving breakfast or lunch items that require tap water for preparation.

What will APS do if a boil water alert is issued? “Depends on what the tests show tomorrow (Friday),” Caton said.

If a boil alert is issued, Caton said APS is ready. “We’ve got cases of bottled water on hand if they institute another boil alert.”

Artesia officials have been working hand-in-hand with the state by retaining an engineering firm that has been monitoring the water system since some cholrine was used to clean the system out after the boil water alert was lifted last month.  “This has been done to eradicate and/or control bacteria which may exist or which may enter the system,” the media release stated.

Artesia officials also said the normal level of chlorine in a chlorinated water system is around two percent. “At these levels, there is typically only minimal smell or taste present,” the release stated.

The Artesia system only has a small residual in the system. “We have had no reports of chlorine smell or taste since maintaining these levels,” the release added.

General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at sports2@rdrnews.com.