Emergency declared in Las Vegas, New Mexico, due to water contaminated with ashes from fires

A huge fire has contaminated the Gallinas River watershed in New Mexico
A huge fire has contaminated the Gallinas River watershed in New Mexico
Khushbu Kumari

New Mexico Governor Michelle Grisham declared a state of emergency when there is about a 50-day supply of drinking water left for the city of Las Vegas.

The city of Las Vegas in New Mexico has declared a state of emergency for its water supply after the Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak Fire, the largest wildfire in New Mexico history , contaminated water in the Gallinas River.

The fire resulted in the loss of federal, state, local, tribal and private property, including thousands of acres of the Gallinas River watershed, the main source of municipal water for the city and surrounding areas , according to the emergency declaration.

The city relies solely on water from the river, which has become contaminated with large amounts of fire-related debris and ash , according to city officials.

The city currently relies on reservoirs that, at current consumption rates, hold less than 50 days of stored water, according to Las Vegas Mayor Louie Trujillo.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Grisham said in a tweet that $2.25 million in state funding has been earmarked to ensure Las Vegas residents have access to safe drinking water.

“The destruction that continues to plague New Mexico communities affected by planned burns by the US Forest Service earlier this year is unfathomable,” Grisham said. “New Mexicans in San Miguel County have been through enough. The state will continue to do everything it can to support them and prevent further damage as a result of the wildfires.”

Grisham added on Saturday that Joe Biden and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have granted his request to include flooding in a disaster declaration the president issued earlier this week, providing federal funding for debris removal and emergency protective measures due to fire.

“As flash flooding continues to threaten New Mexicans in the wildfire scars of Lincoln, Mora and San Miguel counties, I thank President Biden and FEMA for granting my request to include flooding in the declaration. New Mexico disaster," Grisham said Saturday.

The Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak Fire has burned more than 341,735 acres since it began April 6 after a prescribed burn in the Santa Fe National Forest and is now 94% contained, according to the Incident Information System, Inciweb.

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