By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
Elida residents have been released from the “boil water alert” issued Jan. 6 by the New Mexico Environmental Department after E. coli bacteria was found during a routine test of the water system.
Elida town clerk Sandra Monks said the ban was lifted Thursday afternoon after samples gathered during the past week had tested within state limits for E. coli bacteria.
“I’m confident we have good water and a good system,” said Monks.
To deal with the problem, an increased amount of sodium hypochlorite (chlorine disinfectant) has been introduced into the system at the well field. The main storage tank has also been dosed twice. This has resulted in residual chlorine levels near or above one part per million, according to a press release issued by the Environment Department Drinking Water Bureau.
The contaminated water was discovered during a routine water sample pulled from the system Jan. 3. After testing positive for the E. coli bacteria, the boil alert was issued to Elida late Saturday night. Steps were taken to alert residents of the situation, said Don Clark, hydrologist for the NMED-DWB.
Residents were notified Sunday morning and notices posted around town. Monks, along with other volunteers, went door to door to inform the residents of the situation. Though no water was hauled into town for residents, water bottles and hand sanitizer were furnished for Elida students, who returned to school Monday after Christmas break, said Monks.
“I think it has just been an unfortunate business, and we are trying to clean it up,” said Monks.
After the system was shocked, samples were taken and tested Monday and Wednesday to determine the levels of E. coli.
When an alert is issued, samples are tested and results are returned within 24 hours. The alert is lifted only after two sets of four samples taken during a 24-hour period are within limits, said Clark.
“We look for any and all strains of E. coli,” said Clark.
Representatives from the New Mexico Rural Water Association will visit Elida next week to help determine what caused the contamination and where it originated, said Clark.
“I feel good at the progress that was made, and I feel confident the drinking water is good,” said Clark.