E Coli Scare Hits Jal, New Mexico 8/15/13
CBS 7 News
August 15, 2013
JAL, NEW MEXICO-The city of Jal, New Mexico is on high alert and under a boil water notice after the dangerous e coli bacteria is found in the water at two locations.
The water in Jal's lake tested positive yesterday for e coli. CBS 7 went down to the well site where the city gets its drinking water to see what the city is doing to solve the problem.
"We do take it very seriously and we did notify our citizens as soon as we could,” said Jal Public Works Director Van Myrick.
One of the city's 5 water well sites also tested positive for e coli--prompting a city-wide boil water alert, recommending only to use bottled water if possible. CBS 7 spoke with state water officials performing tests on-site.
"If they keep producing e coli or any type of bacteria is found in the water, then Jal has the option of totally disconnecting the well,” said Compliance Officer Brandi Garcia with The New Mexico Drinking Water Bureau. “They’d have to seal everything off and only run on the four existing wells they have.”
They don’t know yet where the e coli may have come from.
"That’s the mystery,” said Myrick. “Our environmental compliance officer says everything looks good, the well is sealed like it should be.”
Residents are asking the same questions.
"Actually we want to know how it got contaminated,” said Jal Resident Rebecca Jamison. “That’s my only question. I know they'll have it fixed,”
The city says its treatment plant should eliminate e coli and that water samples were taken today to confirm the results
"Tomorrow morning we’ll do the same tests and hopefully the results will be negative and that ban will be lifted,” Myrick said.
It will be at least 24 hours before officials know more about those test results. School officials tell CBS 7 that all public schools are closed until further notice because of the boil water alert.
With the potential for water contamination in Jal comes questions about Midland's T Bar Ranch project, which draws its water from the same aquifer as Jal.
Officials say there’s nothing to worry about in Midland.
The City of Midland says it will closely monitor water coming from the T Bar pipeline, and adds that the city is not currently using any of the water at this time.