City of Gallup works to recover after major water main break

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GALLUP, N.M. – It may have only taken crews 30 minutes to get a major water main break under control, but nearly a week later, the City of Gallup is still suffering the consequences. 

In that time, the city lost three million gallons or an entire day’s supply of water. City officials told KOB 4 crews finished repairing the main over the weekend, but it could take days to weeks to replenish what was lost.

In the meantime, residents said their bath, toilet and sink water is brown.

“We do have discolored water issues now,” said Adrian Marrufo, the acting director of the city’s Water/Wastewater Department. “That’s because we’re moving water throughout the city, back and forth.”

Maruffo added that the discolored water has been tested and is not harmful. 

“There’s no impact to the public health with that,” he said. “It’s just the minerals in the pipes.”

City officials said they hope everything returns to normal in the next couple of weeks, but emergency water use restrictions— barring residents from doing any outdoor watering and limiting their indoor water use—could be lifted sooner.

“I can say this for sure, we will still ask people to conserve voluntarily because the more that they do, the faster that we get our system back to normal,” City Manager Maryann Ustick said. “We do understand that people who have gardens and people that have issues like that do need some relief. So, we’ll discuss that, but we can’t tell you that right now. We’ll know probably, in the next day or so.”

The city said it will not cite or fine anyone for not following the restrictions.

“Hoping that we got an honor system-type thing going on, or they do help us out and pay attention to what we put out,” Marrufo said.

“We’ll simply provide education and let people know, and we’ve been doing that, but it’s more of a voluntary education,” Ustick added.

City officials said residents have been cooperating, and they noticed a big drop in water demand the day after they posted the restrictions. They want to thank everyone for listening and jumping into action to help, while they replenish the city’s water tanks.