REALITY OR REPERCUSSIONS, NM For centuries, Indigenous American tribal leaders and also others have actually pertained to this sanctuary to loosen up and also kick back in the plentiful thermal springs that move underground, gurgling up with the crunchy desert flooring.
However in the middle of an intensifying local dry spell, the strangely enough called city is shedding 200 million gallons of alcohol consumption water a year to archaic below ground pipelines that leakage, spit and also often spurt 30 feet high, endangering not just to have its virtually 6,000 homeowners shut down the water yet likewise to intimidate procedures at the city’s 5 public colleges and also its only healthcare facility and also assisted living home.
Institutions have actually currently been required to shut without advising numerous times in the previous year as water is removed while fixings are being made, city authorities stated.
The system is so old that it consists of wood pipelines integrated in the 1800s, and also is fixed by a city water division employee and also 2 others on finance from the sewage system division. Recently, they was in charge of fixing 14 damaged lines, 11 of which happened in a solitary day, wastewater supervisor Arnulfo Castaeda stated.
Citizen Susan Abts, 72, stated her water was suddenly removed last month after a outage near her home caused a gush that shot 30 feet into the air.
I’m worried about where this is going, she said.
So is Jesus Baray, the manager of El Faro restaurant, who lost his water without warning three weeks ago while meals were being served and dishes were being washed. The center’s business was closed for two days.
I understand up to a point, but it keeps happening, Baray said. This is frustration.
Last year, 30 water pipes broke in one day. As the system continues to fail, water in some parts of the city could be cut off for a week at a time, City Manager Bruce Swingle said.
It’s a crisis,” he said last week. “We were there.
A GEOGRAPHICAL DIVISION
Millions of gallons, representing 43 percent of the city’s supply, have been lost in the past year as the West battles a drought so severe it threatens the power generation capabilities of Lakes Mead and Powell and is drying up the river Colorado, which supplies much of the region’s water.
The situation also reflects the geographic divide in the United States as rural communities compete with major metropolitan areas for a cut of the $555 billion federal infrastructure bill to improve the country’s old bridges, roads, levees and pipelines.
Water officials in Truth or Consequences estimate it would cost $150 million to overhaul or replace the deteriorating system. Even fixing the leaks more permanently would cost $20 million, which the city says it can’t afford.
Passed in 2021, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was hailed by federal officials as a once-in-a-lifetime investment aimed in part at improving communities that have too often been left behind.
But city officials said that appears to be happening in Truth or Consequences, which received no response to its requests last year and this year for federal infrastructure money.
Small towns typically rely on federal grants to improve their infrastructure, but what they get is usually not enough to cover an overhaul, said Ken Rainwater, who retired last year as a civil engineering professor at the Texas Tech University.
It costs money to maintain the infrastructure, he said.
Swingle said that while pipes are collapsing daily, he fears schools and health workers could be at risk of biohazardous conditions if there isn’t enough water to wash hands or flush toilets in the event of an unexpected and prolonged outage. .
During previous water outages at Sierra Vista Hospital and Clinics, emergency room patients were turned away or driven by ambulance 75 miles to Las Cruces.
Sierra Vista officials said they have enough water in reserve to last a few days, but after that patients would have to be sent elsewhere.
I can’t imagine the hospital having enough water for three days, said Swingle, who is also the chairman of the hospital’s board of directors.
Scott Williams, the nursing home administrator of Sierra Health Care Center, said he has a contingency plan, but declined to say what he would do if the water was turned off for an extended period. He said the facility has enough backup water for at least a few days.
Swingle expects outages to become more frequent and last longer in the summer as usage increases, putting even more pressure on the unreliable system.
HOLIDAY TOURISM IS INCREASING
The city can attract more than 100,000 visitors on holiday weekends as people flock to the hot springs and the state’s largest lake, Elephant Butte, 5 miles from downtown. Any of them could experience a medical emergency during a failure, Swingle stated.
Originally known as Hot Springs, Truth or Consequences underwent a rebrand in 1950 when the radio play “Truth or Consequences” promised to broadcast its 10th anniversary episode in the first U.S. city to change its name to the moniker. Hot Springs won the national competition.
Local lore holds that famed Apache leader Geronimo would soak in the hot springs after the battle.
Current state political leader Sen. Crystal Diamond, a Republican representing the city, introduced Senate Bill 359 last month, which would allocate $20 million from the state’s general fund to help fix pipes.
Diamond said he had previously asked the office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, for money to fix the problem, but he never received a response. Lujan Grisham declined to comment.
The state Department of the Environment said it gave the city $5.3 million for its clean water system, but Swingle said the money came from the federal government for a downtown water project unrelated to the collapse. pipelines.
Diamond, that insists there is enough money in the state coffers to pay for the repairs, said: “I don’t think they are taking it seriously.
“In rural, remote areas of New Mexico, when there isn’t a huge population, they just don’t get the investment,” he added. “Providing water is a public safety issue and also should be a priority.”
In the United States, water main outages occur every 2 minutes, with an estimated daily loss of 6 billion gallons of treated water, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2021 report card.
All we were doing was fixing the water lines, Swingle stated. Once the repair is done, it will leak very close. The water will simply find the next vulnerable spot and also rise to the surface.