Free well testing kits available for New Mexicans impacted by wildfires, flooding

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The wildfires in northern New Mexico and the monsoon floods, have created a whole new set of problems for residents with what is available for folks who are running out of clean water options.

The concern is private wells, important water that many households rely on.

“If a person’s well, well house or part of their system that has been submerged by floodwaters there is the potential for their system to, for bacteria to get into their system and then breed and contaminate their private well,” said Justin Ball, bureau chief for the groundwater quality with the New Mexico Environment Department.

And that can be harmful to people who rely on that water source for drinking. 

“There are steps they can take to eliminate the bacteria by decontaminating their own well, it’s just a matter of knowing whether they need to take those steps,” said Ball. 

On Tuesday, residents in northern New Mexico who have been impacted by the wildfires can pick up bacteria testing kits. 

“This free testing would allow an indication whether that has occurred. We wanted to provide this service to the community we know that the fires and floods have caused significant harm to the community and this is what we can do to assist them, and understand how they have been impacted by the flooding,” said Ball. 

Ball said it’s important to identify contaminated wells, so residents can take the next steps to get clean water.

“We would call them and let them know we got the positive result and the well is contaminated the next steps are to pour an amount of vinegar and bleach into the well to kill the bacteria that is present there and recirculate the water for a little while,” Ball said. 

The sample kits will be ready for pickup at the New Mexico Environment Department field offices on Tuesday in Las Vegas, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents are encouraged to drop the kits back off on Thursday before noon.