Camino Real Regional Utilities Authority investigates after detecting above-regulated levels of arsenic in drinking water

DONA ANA COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – A water sample taken March 15 in Dona Ana County contained arsenic levels that exceeded the federal maximum contaminant level (MCL). Now, residents are being warned about the effects of drinking contaminated water and the Camino Real Regional Utility Authority is facing a major investigation.

The state Drinking Water Bureau (DWB) found above-regulation contaminants after conducting unannounced water samples at 10 Doña Ana County locations. The DWB said the CRRUA has been directed to comply with drinking water regulations, but the unannounced sampling is an “independent measure” being taken “to ensure the health and safety of residents”.

Nine out of 10 samples collected met the standard and were below the maximum contaminant level of 0.010 mg per litre. Sample test results are as follows:

  • 2401 Airport Road, Santa Teresa – Above 0.0160 mg/L *MCL
  • 5805 McNutt Road, Suite F, Sunland Park – 0.0088 mg/L
  • 5300 McNutt Road in Sunland Park – 0.0071 mg/L
  • 5200 McNutt Road in Sunland Park – 0.0070 mg/L
  • 5101 McNutt Road in Sunland Park – 0.0063 mg/L
  • 5622 McNutt Road in Sunland Park – 0.0062 mg/L
  • 1200 Futurity Drive in Sunland Park – 0.0061 mg/L
  • 1673 McNutt Road in Sunland Park – 0.0058 mg/L
  • 3365 McNutt Road in Sunland Park – 0.0036 mg/L
  • 3365 McNutt Road in Sunland Park – 0.0031 mg/L

The agency says arsenic enters drinking water supplies from natural deposits on Earth; It is odorless and tasteless. Symptoms of arsenic exposure include the following:

  • Thickening and discoloration of the skin
  • stomach ache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Partial paralysis
  • blindness

Earlier this month, New Mexico’s Department of the Environment issued CRRUA a $250,000 fine for violating the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. “Exceeding these limits for arsenic drinking water standards is further evidence that a violation of the CRRUA has occurred,” the DWB said. The department is focusing its investigation on CRRUA’s management of its arsenic treatment system and has reached out to the state Department of Justice, as well as the state auditor’s office, about “ongoing compliance issues.”

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