CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) – After years of work and fighting for funding, the state says filling the Brine Well sinkhole in Carlsbad is finally complete. There is still follow-up work to do but in the simplest terms, the massive hole sitting under Carlsbad is filled.

“Today, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the investment of $65 million than to say to every single industry, every single resident and family…it’s safe, it’s done, traffic is no longer interrupted,” said Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham at a press conference on Wednesday.

The state said they first learned of the problem in 2008. It was an unstable well near two major highways in Carlsbad. Initially, it was estimated to be more than 700 feet long and a couple of hundred feet in height. Crews drilled holes into the earth and filled the cavities in the well with sand and grout.


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Experts said the hole was at risk of collapsing and could create more than a billion dollars in damage. Local and state leaders have tried to find solutions and funding for years.

“There aren’t enough words to really talk about how unique and complex and unusual this challenge was,” said Sarah Cottrell Propst, Secretary of the Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department.

In 2020, work stopped due to a budget shortfall. On Wednesday, June 1, state and local leaders touted bipartisan support to fix this massive problem.

“We had a significant problem to solve and the natural reaction, no matter who you are, what your role is…is to start those conversations with well whose fault is it first,” said Governor Lujan Grisham. “That is the wrong way for us to support each other no matter what the challenges are.”

A total of $65 million of federal, local, and state money has been spent over the years fixing this problem. EMNRD said it is still on-site cleaning up and returning properties impacted back to the owners, who entered an agreement with the department years ago to get this fixed.

EMNRD also said funding is going toward monitoring the filled hole over the next two years. There will be a meeting on Thursday to discuss the project details.

The Department of Transportation also changed parts of Highway 285 and 62/180 to do this work. It is unclear if they will be returned to how they were or stay how they are now.