Las Vegas, NM: 50 Days of Clean Drinking Water Remain, State of Emergency Declared

Democratic New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a state of emergency Friday for the city of Las Vegas.

The tiny town, which has a population of only 13,000 — unlike its much larger and more famous namesake to the west in Nevada — has only 50 days’ worth of water supplies left.

The disastrous situation developed after its only source of clean water, the Gallinas River, was contaminated by debris and ash coming from fires that blazed through forests upstream in April and May, ABC News reported.

The fires, according to ABC News, destroyed state, federal and private property and burned thousands of acres of the Gallinas River’s watershed.

The fire — declared the largest wildfire in New Mexico’s history — originated after the U.S. Forest Service miscalculated the effects of their controlled fires, according to reporting from The Associated Press.

“The devastating impact of this fire to the communities and livelihoods of those affected in New Mexico demanded this level of review to ensure we understand how this tragic event unfolded,” US Forest Service Chief Randy Moore wrote in the agency’s 80-page review of the incident, the newswire service reported.

The review was published in June, according to the outlet.

“I cannot overstate how heartbreaking these impacts are on communities and individuals,” Moore wrote.


The debris flowing downstream from the site of the fire has given the Gallinas River such a high ash concentration and turbidity that Las Vegas authorities have not been able to extract the water or treat it in the city’s municipal water treatment facility, ABC News reported.

The Friday emergency declaration comes as rainstorms in the region have given rise to burn-scar flooding that threatens to contaminate Las Vegas’ water supply even more.

Grisham’s executive order allocated $2.25 million in state emergency funding to help the local government with taking emergency steps to “prevent additional damage, repair public infrastructure, and lessen the overall recovery time related to wildfire impacts and burn scar flooding,” according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“The destruction that continues to befall New Mexico communities affected by the U.S. Forest Service planned burns from earlier this year is unfathomable,” Grisham said, according to the news release.

“I am very appreciative of the diligent and proactive work done by the City of Las Vegas to ensure that the municipal water system will continue to operate safely.”

“I am glad to provide emergency funding from the state to support that effort,” she said.

“The contaminated water flow from the Gallinas caused by the wildfire damage to our watershed has compromised the availability of water to the Las Vegas municipal water system. Rest assured that the city will be holding the federal government responsible for our current situation,” Las Vegas Mayor Louie Trujillo said.

“I would like to thank our Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, for her unfailing support through this entire ordeal. We are working closely with both state and federal governments to make this right for all Las Vegas residents,” Trujillo added.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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