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Sunland Park, Santa Teresa customers frustrated as elevated pH levels create ‘slimy’ water

SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico (KVIA)-- Some residents are voicing their concerns following high pH levels in the water system. Many customers said this was creating slick and slimy water for customers in Santa Teresa and Sunland Park.

The executive director of the Camino Real Regional Utility Authority, Brent Westmoreland, said Friday the company continues to address the issue.

He said a pump in the arsenic treatment plant didn't shut off like it was supposed to when the wells were turned off. As a result, the system continued to pump sulfuric acid into the system, raising pH levels.

Westmoreland said the company quickly closed the source and started flushing lines and draining tanks. The Sunland Park Fire Department is also assisting in the process.

"We're testing the water about every hour, hour and a half, and the pH is coming back down to normal as we speak," he said.

Westmoreland said about 1,000 homes were being impacted. One impacted customer told ABC-7 she felt the difference in the water.

“It’s like, slimy. My mom and me took a shower, and I just kept, like, trying to rinse out my hair, and it just felt like I just had conditioner. Even if I was just, like, rinsing it out. And then, like, my brother, he turned on the water and it was like a little bit not clear," said Lea Lopez.

Customers are being encouraged to use bottled water for purposes including: drinking, cooking, washing fruits and vegetables, brushing teeth, bathing and providing drinking water for pets.

An drinking water advisory was issued Friday which applies to certain areas within Sunland Park and Santa Teresa, including Valencia Park, Villa Valencia, Mason Farms, The Grove, Edgemont, Casas Lindas, Bluffs and Tuscan Ridge.

ABC-7 asked the CRRUA executive director why they didn't notify residents earlier in the week. One customer said she wasn't notified about the water advisory until an emergency alert was sent to her phone Friday afternoon.

"Well, this is something that we couldn't notice people on because we were as surprised as they were. You know, it was an emergent or urgent scenario that came across to all of us," said Westmoreland.

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Rosemary Montañez

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