GRANTS. N.M. (KRQE) - The amount of floodwater isn't the only problem affecting New Mexico. What's in the water is causing concern, too.
The state environment department is warning thousands of public and private well owners that their wells might now be contaminated.
New Mexico environment officials estimate there are more than 2,000 infected water wells around the state and they say a lot of it has to do with flooded sewers.
New Mexico Environment Department officials are telling private well owners to open all the facets indoors and flush chlorine through the system until they can smell the chlorine.
They estimate thousands of private and public wells have been contaminated by heavy flood waters from rain storms that swept through the state last week.
“There are more problems right now then we have people,” said Dennis McQuillan, source water protection manager of the New Mexico Environment Department.
One of those major problems is in Grants where water from the San Jose River is continuing to spill over banks and wash out streets.
Late Monday, the sewer backed up, too, causing major contamination issues for the city.
“Floodwater is just unsanitary because it's usually co-mingled with raw sewage coming from sewers that have flooded coming from septic tanks that have been inundated,” said McQuillan.
Grants city officials say they're doing all they can to decontaminate the floodwater that's been running through some of their busiest streets since last night.
"Usually, most people use Clorox bleach to decontaminate stuff with,” said Tony Boyd of the Cibola County Rescue Department. “Well, they can't use the bleach or the hph pellets, so they are using lime. It helps to neutralize the contamination.”
Boyd says the city has already put about 200 pounds of lime in the affected areas in hopes of washing out any possible bacteria.
“Because safe drinking water saves lives plain and simple,” said McQuillan.
Grants city officials say they expect the decontamination process to be finished later Tuesday night.
They say there is no immediate danger for residents.
The environment department says they will continue to monitor and test the water in that area.
According to the Environment Department, it is the responsibility of private well owners to protect their own water supply.
Water can be tested for contamination at a number of private companies across the state.
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