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Arsenic levels in Santa Teresa’s water supplies “exceeded the maximum contaminant level” in 2023, according to CRRUA

SANTA TERESA, New Mexico (KVIA) -- The Camino Real Regional Utility Authority, or CRRUA, sent out a notice over the weekend letting its customers know that arsenic levels were higher in their drinking water than what's allowed in the third quarter of 2023.

"Our water system recently violated a drinking water standard," said CRRUA in the notice.

"Although this is not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know what happened, what you should do, and what we are doing to correct the situation," it added.

The standard maximum contaminant level of arsenic, or MCL, must not exceed 0.010 mg/l according to the EPA.

Samples taken during the third quarter of 2023 indicated that the arsenic level was 0.015 mg/l, which exceeds the standard level.

While CRRUA says residents don't need to boil their water, people with specific health conditions should contact their doctor due to "increased risks."

This includes people with a compromised immune system, people who are pregnant or have an infant, and the elderly.

The notice says people who drink water containing arsenic in excess of the MCL (0.010 mg/l) over "many years" could experience skin damage, circulatory system problems, and an increased risk of cancer.

According to CRRUA, the arsenic levels in the letter are based on a rolling average from samples taken throughout the year.

CRRUA's Border Tank Arsenic System was "put on-line" on September 23rd of this year, and samples of the water taken after its opening read 0.004 mg/l, which is lower than the MCL.

ABC-7 spoke with Juan Crosby, the acting executive director of CRRUA Tuesday, and he said that the public will receive a similar notice "within a month" for quarter 4 numbers.

He says arsenic levels may once again be elevated in the notice due to the rolling average of samples taken throughout the year, but says the numbers won't reflect current arsenic levels in the water due to the arsenic treatment plant's operation.

The arsenic problems in CRRUA's water supply aren't new.

ABC-7 previously reported back in 2016 that residents refused to drink the water due to high arsenic levels, leading many to use only bottled water.

In 2016, arsenic levels were reported as being as high as 0.016 mg/l, which is even higher than the 0.015 mg/l being reported in 2023.

Annual water reports from CRRUA indicate that arsenic levels have been in violation of EPA standards since at least 2017.

This is the third time the troubled utility company has been in the headlines recently, as previous director Brent Westmoreland retired last week following a treatment plant malfunction that left an excess of sulfuric acid in their water supply, leaving the water unsafe.

An investigation is currently underway by CRRUA to "provide more answers to the community."

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

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Jason McNabb

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