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Tests reveal Anapra water contains high level of arsenic

The ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has many concerned about what’s in their water.

Residents of Anapra, near Sunland Park, are now worried about the level of arsenic that’s showing up in their water supply.

Independent tests show the arsenic in Anapra’s water supply is above the recommended level. The supplier is advising residents not to drink the water.

“I feel like we’re a little Flint, Michigan, in disguise,” said Ramon Sierra, a resident of Anapra for nearly 50 years.

Sierra said he’s been receiving letters from the Camino Real Regional Utility Authority warning him about the arsenic level in the water.

“We actually get a letter from CRUA, who is our water supply, telling us it’s not good for drinking,” Sierra said.

“If you have ongoing exposure to arsenic at the levels that we’re talking about, there are potentially very dangerous outcomes,” said Dr. Paul Maxwell, candidate for District 34 New Mexico State Representative. “Cancer, bladder issues, skin issues, vomiting, diarrhea and even death.”

Maxwell recently had independent tests done on the water in Anapra.

“The standards for arsenic in water changed back in 2006,” Maxwell pointed out. “they had originally been about 50 parts per billion. Now they’re at 10.”

An Albuquerque lab revealed Anapra’s water has arsenic levels at 14 parts per billion, or 40-percent above the new standard.

“The people of Anapra, who cannot afford it, they’re actually buying only bottled water for their drinking purposes,” Maxwell said.

UTEP engineering professor Malynda Cappelle told ABC-7 that arsenic can make you sick, but at lower concentration levels, it may take decades.

“It shouldn’t be an immediate cause for concern,” Cappelle said. “But with a multi-year issue, it is more of a concern. Children would be a bigger concern. It could cause cognitive issues.”

Sierra said he’s not worried about himself, because he’s elderly.

“I see all those little kids in the neighborhood, though, and I”m pretty sure they probably drink the water, because not everybody can afford to buy the bottled water,” Sierra said. “So that’s a concern. If they continue drinking this water, what could happen to them?”

Sierra told me ABC-7 he has received warning letters periodically, but not consistently, over several years.

The Camino Real Regional Utility Authority told ABC-7 a failure at two treatment plants is why the arsenic level is so high. The director has been on the job five months. He said two of the plants are expected to be fixed this week and a new third plant is expected to be completed this summer.

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