Governor declares emergency for Las Vegas water contamination

Jul. 29—Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has made an emergency declaration for Las Vegas, N.M., because of ashy sediment and debris from a widespread burn scar threatening the city's water system.

The governor's executive orders make $2.25 million in state emergency funding available to assist the city with measures such as buying a pre-treatment system to filter the contaminated water flowing from the Gallinas River.

The governor's orders followed Las Vegas Mayor Louie Trujillo's emergency declaration Thursday after utility managers determined the city would have only 50 days of clean water.

"The destruction that continues to befall New Mexico communities affected by the U.S. Forest Service planned burns from earlier this year is unfathomable," Lujan Grisham said in a statement. "New Mexicans in San Miguel County have been through enough — we will continue to do everything we can to support them and prevent additional damage as a result of the wildfires."

The situation was an expected aftereffect of the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, which scorched more than 341,000 acres, including in the Las Vegas area.

In May, U.S. Forest Service officials said monsoon rains would wash ashy sediment and other debris from charred hillsides into the Gallinas River, which then would carry the silt downstream to the city's water treatment system unequipped to filter out the contaminants.

This is a developing story. Please check back for more details.