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Questa officials hope water system ready to restart soon

SANTA FE — The northern New Mexico village of Questa is close to getting running water to its residents after eight days of being dry, and the mayor is asking them to be patient as a new well is being created and tested.

Mayor Mark Gallegos said Wednesday that Questa, located between Taos and the Colorado border, has been without water since Dec. 6. A new well has been dug out and the 24-hour disinfecting process has begun.

Gallegos said the New Mexico Environment Department still has to do tests on the new well to make sure its water is safe to use. He estimates that the well could be up and running by Monday. Crews will work through the weekend if need be to get it operating, he said.

“Once we get the green light from the Environment Department, we’ll put the water system into service,” Gallegos said.

The village of about 1,800 residents is still under a boil advisory, and Gallegos urges citizens to conserve what water they may have until the new well is running. “I’ve asked that the community continue to be patient,” Gallegos said. “We are working hard to deal with this hardship at this time.”

Gallegos said utility workers fixed a leak in the system about three weeks ago, but the water pressure that built up after the fix could have caused new, smaller leaks that led to the water outage. He said the village has been patching up leaks for the past several months.

It’s tough for rural communities who don’t have access to better technology to put a more foolproof water system in place, said the mayor.

“Through the course of this year we have identified and corrected these major leaks we felt were affecting the system,” Gallegos said. “It’s an old system.”

Volunteer firefighters and other community members have helped distribute water – bottled water for drinking and non-potable water for other uses – to residents since the outage. Gallegos said the village administration and utility workers have identified the community members who are in most need. Even local teenagers have volunteered to distribute water since the schools have been closed. Gallegos expects local students to remain out of school until at least Monday.

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