ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Tens of thousands of gallons of water were trucked to the village of Magdalena on Friday to help residents after the community’s sole drinking water well went dry earlier this week.
New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said the truckloads of water were just a temporary solution, and the state was working with the village to see if repairs can be made to get one of three nonworking wells in the area back into production. The state has also approved an emergency permit to drill a new well.
Late Friday, Flynn issued a declaration of life threatening conditions, which allows Magdalena to apply for emergency funding to get the work done.
“All of our resources have been dispatched and we’re doing everything we can to help them get out of this situation,” Flynn told The Associated Press.
The state Emergency Operations Center and the National Guard were monitoring the situation. Troops were ready to haul more water to the village if needed, Flynn said.
Preliminary assessments point to drought as the culprit, according to village officials and experts with the Environment Department.
From Santa Fe and San Miguel counties to eastern New Mexico, domestic and livestock wells have been going dry. Reservoir levels have also reached record lows as the state makes its way through a third straight year of extreme drought.
As of Friday evening, Magdalena Village Marshal Larry Cearley said 46,000 gallons of water had been trucked in from Socorro and the nearby Very Large Array radio astronomy observatory. He said more will have to be brought in daily to keep the system flowing even though the 1,000 residents are voluntarily conserving what is left in the pipes.
Cearley said news of the state’s declaration was one more step toward “getting life back to normal.”
“We’re trying to do the best we can, and everybody is holding up,” he said. “No one is really complaining. They know what they’re up against.”
Bottled water is also being distributed, and the village is trying to make sure the elderly and those families with young children are being cared for.
Village officials are hopeful a new well can be drilled in about seven days. The estimated cost is around $100,000.
In the meantime, state officials are urging residents to continue boiling their water as a precaution.