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Some Gadsden ISD campuses transition to remote learning as Sunland Park, Santa Teresa residents continue to see water quality issues

Update: The Gadsden Independent School District announced Saturday that some of its campuses will transition to remote learning due to the water quality concerns. Read the full letter below:

SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico (KVIA) -- Officials with the Camino Real Regional Utility Authority provided an update on the quality of the water in Sunland Park and Santa Teresa Saturday, after an issue at the arsenic treatment plant earlier this week led to elevated levels of sulfuric acid, which raised pH levels.

"While the pH levels are dropping, we are still advising residents in the affected areas to NOT to use the water coming out of the faucets for drinking, washing dishes, or bathing," CRRUA officials said in a release.

Brent Westmoreland, CRRUA's Executive Director, told ABC-7 that as of Saturday afternoon, pH levels across the affected areas ranged between 8.5 and 10.25. He said they always strive for pH levels to sit around 7.5.

The affected areas are Valencia Park, Villa Valencia, Mason Farms, The Grove, Edgemont, Casas Lindas, Bluffs, and Tuscan Ridge.

Friday and Saturday, CRRUA customers were able to pick up free water provided by the utility company at several locations in Sunland Park and Santa Teresa. ABC-7 was at one of those locations Saturday, where our crews witnessed hundreds of residents receiving a case, and a gallon of water each.

Some residents were happy with the temporary resolution, but others said it wasn't enough.

"We do have a baby... we didn't know that this happened. So we're going to start boiling his bottles cause we had been washing dishes before they let us know. So we're kind of scared," said an affected resident named Kristen.

Others living in affected areas have complained of skin irritation.

"It's really frustrating that we've been showering, eating food and all this all week. And now they're telling us we shouldn't have been doing that, or we can't be doing that," said Megan Sandovar, an affected resident. "Why didn't they go and initiate something immediately to all our customers?"

Westmoreland told ABC-7 CRRUA was alerted of the issue Wednesday morning, and he said customers were alerted between Wednesday night and Thursday morning. We asked him the same question Sandovar asked us.

"Didn't know the source," he said. "Needed to get some background information first. Once again, this was not a planned event. Therefore, we were as caught off guard as the residents were."

CRRUA said they are continuing to monitor pH levels in their water, and will provide frequent updates. You can count on ABC-7 to bring you any developments on air and online.

For more information, customers can call CRRUA at 915-238-8742 or 575-649-9349.

Article Topic Follows: Health

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Kerry Mannix


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