NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A community in northern New Mexico already impacted by the Hermit’s Peak Calf Canyon Fire has another problem on their hands. Buena Vista in Mora County is home to more than 350 people and right now families are struggling because the community’s well is running dry.

Imagine not having access to clean water for your everyday needs. Nicholas Vigil says that’s the reality for people living in Buena Vista. “Since the middle of the fire, we’ve found out that we can’t supply the fire department plus our residents. And so we learned the lesson the hard way,” Vigil said.

Story continues below:

The community is already impacted by wildfires and now people have to gather their own water and ration it – since the wells’ aquifer is not replenishing itself. “They’re having to literally go down to the irrigation ditches and fill up their five-gallon buckets or whatever they can find, just to flush their toilets,” explains Vigil.

Many people in this rural community are older. “The problem is the elderly because you know, five gallons of water is pretty heavy,” Vigil said.

For years the Mutual Domestic Water Association has wanted to build a new well because of aging infrastructure, and the wildfires have only made matters worse. Representative Roger Montoya says, “The fire was not their fault. The fire was part of a prescribed burn. And because the firefighter fighters had to draw on the well, it further depleted the aquifer to a dangerous level.”

The project for a new well is estimated to cost around half a million dollars. There’s about 270,000 dollars earmarked for the project but that won’t cut it. “They’re needing about $200,000, approximately, to complete the new well, do all of the rigging and digging and hooking up to the existing wheelhouse to ensure that the citizens can have the water they need,” Rep. Montoya said.

Vigil also serves as the chairman of the Buena Vista Rural Water Association. He’s pleading with lawmakers, like Representative Montoya, to help his community. “We really need people to help. I don’t need people to promise me that they will look into it. I really need action.”

Right now, engineering and permitting for the new well are in place. Representative Montoya says he is asking Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to secure the additional money to get the project done. Representative Montoya says there are about 600 mutual domestic water associations across New Mexico in need of modernizing.