Town hall will address water, fireworks issues

Argen Duncan

City officials have set a special town hall meeting for Tuesday to address water and fireworks issues.

Mayor Sharon King said she wants to provide more information about the water situation, update citizens on efforts to stop fireworks use until it rains and answer questions. Discussion isn’t limited to fireworks and water, she said.

City officials on Thursday lifted an emergency water alert, saying water levels have returned to normal.

The temporary emergency water restriction prohibiting residents from any outdoor water use was issued by the city after an electrical breaker malfunctioned Wednesday on one of the water lines in Portales’ water well system.

The breaker malfunction meant all 28 city wells stopped pumping water for 27-minutes. Howell said levels at city water storage tanks dropped to 10 feet during the pause — 5 feet below normal.

By late Thursday afternoon, however, water levels in the tanks had returned to the normal level of 15 feet.

Howell added that residents must now return to a mandatory odd-even outdoor watering schedule.

Officials and citizens have expressed concerns about the danger of fireworks starting fires as July 4 approaches.

“The current drought conditions are the most severe we have experienced since the mid-1970s,” King said. “We must take drastic measures for these drastic times.”

King, Howell, Police Chief Jeff Gill, Fire Chief Gary Nuckols and several city councilors are to attend the meeting Tuesday.

King hopes the meeting will pressure Gov. Susana Martinez to require that fireworks use be postponed until it rains. Action by the governor is the only legal way to ban or limit fireworks at this point, King said.

For water, city officials hope by maintaining the odd-even watering schedules throughout the summer it will help allow reserves to rebuild.

“We are keeping a careful watch on our water supply,” Howell said, “and will continue to keep the public informed.”