County water concerns spreading

Sharna Johnson

Approximately 300 people west of Clovis are experiencing rising nitrate levels in their private water systems, Rosalie Robinson said Tuesday, asking the Curry County Commission for help.

Robinson, who works with the state environment department’s drinking water bureau, spoke during the public comment portion of the county commission meeting held in the North Annex of the Clovis-Carver Library.

She said three wells have already been lost and tests on another three have exceeded nitrate levels recommended safe for human consumption by the federal government.

She said the impacted area is roughly a square mile area near State Road 311 and U.S. 60/84 north of Cannon Air Force Base.

Robinson said about five systems total are impacted, and “with time it could grow.”

There are several residential communities in that area relying on private water systems including individual wells and cooperative wells. Among them are a mobile home park and a convenience store, she said.

Additionally, she said residents are seeing dropping water levels and low pressure issues similar to those being experienced south of Clovis, an issue the county is trying to address through pursuit of emergency grant money.

Resident Gary Blair told commissioners he manages two of the wells in the area.

He said the water level has dropped to eight feet and he is concerned about the nitrate issues.

Blair asked commissioners to step in to help ensure the safety of residents.

“If private wells are not tested (and) if somebody is feeding water to a child … It could be deadly,” he said. “Somebody should notify these people.”

Commission Chairman Caleb Chandler instructed County Manager Lance Pyle to look into the issues and report back to the commission with his findings.

On June 27, the county held a public meeting to hear the concerns of residents in south Clovis who are experiencing water shortages and dry wells.

The county is in the process of gathering data to apply for an emergency grant to try and get the affected areas access to water services provided by New Mexico American Water.

Commissioners asked Pyle to research the possibility of including the issues west of Clovis in that grant.

“It’s disturbing about the report of nitrates in our water out there,” Commissioner Frank Blackburn said.

He encouraged residents to contact the county extension office to get their water tested.

Robinson said the state environment department can do basic field testing and there are several private laboratories that can do more detailed testing if residents prefer.

In other business, Curry County Commissioners: