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The City of Artesia Water Department is reporting that one routine water sample recently tested by Cardinal Laboratories in Hobbs has showed positive for E. coli.

NO ACTION is currently required of Artesia residents, and the city is not currently under a boil water alert. However, the positive indication requires the city to submit a second round of samples, the results of which are expected Friday afternoon.

Should the sample once again show positive for E. coli, a boil water alert would likely be issued; if it does not, no boil water order will be necessary.

Following is the press release issued just now by the City of Artesia:

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The City of Artesia, in conjunction with the State of New Mexico and the retained engineering firm, have been monitoring the City’s water system while making plans on how to proceed with water treatment in the future.  The City has been maintaining a basic level of chlorine in the system since lifting the Boil Water Alert in late September.  This has been done to eradicate and/or control bacteria which may exist or which may enter the system.

In a chlorinated water system, the normal level of chlorine maintained in the system is between 1% and 2%.  At these levels, there is typically only minimal smell or taste present.  The City is currently maintaining a residual of .5% to .9% throughout the system.  We have had no reports of chlorine smell or taste since maintaining these levels.

On Tuesday, October 10, the first routine samples (8) for the month were taken and sent to the lab in Hobbs.  These samples were taken from random sites (approved sites by the State of New Mexico Drinking Water Bureau).  As has become the City’s practice, a second set of samples was taken and retained at the Water Department.  The second set of samples were tested by the Artesia Water Department using the same procedure as the Hobbs lab.  The results from the lab in Hobbs were received at approximately 4:00 PM on Wednesday with one sample showing positive for e-coli.  None of the samples tested locally showed positive.

The State of New Mexico Environment Department was contacted immediately to discuss the testing results and to determine next steps.  It was determined that three sets of samples would be taken today (Thursday) with one set sent for testing to the lab in Hobbs, one set sent for testing to a lab in Albuquerque and one set retained and tested locally.  The results will be available late in the afternoon on Friday, October 13.

It is worth noting that the sample testing positive was at a location with a residual chlorine level of .9%.  Typically, this level of chlorine would be sufficient to eliminate all bacteria in the lines.  Sampling this site again, as well as other sites in the vicinity of this site, is required by the State of New Mexico and the City will comply with this procedure.  In addition, samples from all six wells will be tested with results to be received late tomorrow (Friday).

The City will have a conference call with the State’s Environment Department on Friday morning to discuss possible test results and alternatives available.  No action is required by residents of Artesia until further notice.  The City will immediately advise the public of the test results on Friday evening along with recommended actions, if any.  Residents with questions should call 575-746-9821 or 575-746-2122.