New Mexico wildfires leave Las Vegas facing water shortage

FILE - A forest along NM518 in Mora County, N.M, is scorched by the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak...
FILE - A forest along NM518 in Mora County, N.M, is scorched by the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire, May 23, 2022.(Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal via AP, File)
Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 10:56 AM CDT
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LAS VEGAS, New Mexico (KCBD) - The City of Las Vegas has fewer than 20 days left worth of clean drinking water. Pollution and debris left over from the Calf Canyon-Hermit’s Peak fires has contaminated its water supply.

On July 27, Mayor Louie Trujillo declared a state of emergency due to the increased risk of the city’s water quality and supply.

Read the full declaration here.

The city is unable to treat water from the Gallinas River because of the large amounts of ash and turbidity. The cloudiness, or haziness, of the river can lead to health concerns if consumed, according to the United State Geological Survey. Government funding will go toward a temporary treatment system to get water from a nearby lake instead of the ash-polluted river.

Wildfires across New Mexico burned for nearly four months before being declared fully contained by the federal government last week. The U.S. Forest Service reports the historic fire started when two controlled burns merged. The Hermit’s Peak and Calf Canyon fires burned more than 530 square miles.

READ MORE: Record-setting wildfire in New Mexico declared contained

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham requested an extension of the state’s disaster declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The disaster declaration will now be in effect through Sept. 6.

Gov. Lujan Grisham also requested federal financial support for ranchers, farmers and landowners impacted by wildfires.

“New Mexicans impacted by wildfires or flooding, mudflow, and debris flow damage in burn scar areas can apply for assistance through September 6, 2022 by registering with FEMA at or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362),” according to a news release issued by the governor.