A high-end housing community on Santa Fe's west side is reeling as the state has advised roughly 400 residents who live in Las Campanas to boil their water, at least until tomorrow evening. Officials are working to determine whether E. coli is making the water dangerous to drink, the state Environment Department’s Drinking Water Bureau tells SFR.
Wayne Jeffs, a compliance officer with the water bureau, says so far no one in the community 10 miles west of Santa Fe has fallen ill, and a few more samples have been taken by the Las Campanas Water and Sewer Association. The results should be back sometime Saturday afternoon.
The boil advisory was issued late Thursday afternoon after a routine test conducted on Monday discovered a microbiological contaminant that indicated there might be E. coli in the drinking supply, Jeffs says.
On Wednesday, more water samples were taken, and the results came back Thursday morning, identifying the contaminant as E. coli, according to Jeffs.
Jeffs says the contamination may have been brought on by stagnant water in some of the water lines, or there could have been a false positive during the sample process. In any event, he claims that the water bureau is trying to get to the bottom of it; in the interim, he says the bureau is "erring on the side of caution."
This advisory only applies to the drinking water from the Las Campanas Water System and does not extend to any other surrounding water systems, Jeffs says.
Concierge Nancy McDermott says this afternoon that the Club at Las Campanas shut down its food and beverage service to be on safe side, but the golf course is still open.
City officials say their municipal water supply has not been contaminated. Recent water samples have so far yielded clean results. Although the city sells water to Santa Fe County, which then provides water to the Las Campanas Water System, city officials say there has been no indication that the bacteriological contamination originated from city water sources, according to a press release issued today.
Consumers of the Las Campanas Water System are advised to boil the water for five minutes before drinking, cooking, dishwashing and bathing, according to a press release issued by the state Environment Department.
The presence of E. coli in water, the press release says, indicates that the water may have been in contact with sewage or animal wastes and could contain disease-causing organisms.
Most strains of E. coli are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, according to the state. However, a positive test for E. coli in the drinking water supply may indicate the presence of dangerous strains that could cause severe gastrointestinal illness and, in rare cases, death.
Children, the elderly and immuno-compromised individuals are at an increased risk for illness, the state said.
UPDATE: As of late Saturday, the water boil was lifted after test samples taken Friday concluded that the water was clean and safe to drink.