Governor declares state of emergency for City of Las Vegas, makes $2.25 million available to protect drinking water
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday signed executive orders declaring a state of emergency in the City of Las Vegas due to burn scar flooding threatening the area’s drinking water supply.
The executive orders make $2.25 million in state emergency funding available to assist the local government with emergency measures, help prevent additional damage, repair public infrastructure, and lessen the overall recovery time related to wildfire impacts and burn scar flooding. The declaration of a state of emergency comes after the state asked the local government to formally request an emergency declaration, enabling the state to provide additional resources per state emergency management procedures. The City of Las Vegas approved a resolution declaring a state of emergency on Thursday.
“The destruction that continues to befall New Mexico communities affected by the U.S. Forest Service planned burns from earlier this year is unfathomable,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “I am very appreciative of the diligent and proactive work done by the City of Las Vegas to ensure that the municipal water system will continue to operate safely, and I am glad to provide emergency funding from the state to support that effort. 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 burn scar created by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire has left thousands of acres of ash and debris along the Gallinas River watershed, which serves as the city’s primary municipal water source. While Las Vegas currently retains an estimated two-month supply of safe drinking water, ongoing flooding in the burn scar threatens to contaminate the city’s water supply with ash and debris, which could negatively affect the use of the municipal water supply. The emergency funding made available by Gov. Lujan Grisham will support the City of Las Vegas to establish and operate a temporary pre-treatment system that will allow the city to safely treat and draw water from Storrie Lake for municipal use. The Las Vegas drinking water supply remains safe to use at this time – the city utility’s staff are closely monitoring the water quality and coordinating with state officials on a daily basis.
“The contaminated water flow from the Gallinas caused by the wildfire damage to our watershed has compromised the availability of water to the Las Vegas municipal water system. Rest assured that the city will be holding the federal government responsible for our current situation,” said Las Vegas Mayor Louie Trujillo. “I would like to thank our Governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, for her unfailing support through this entire ordeal. We are working closely with both state and federal governments to make this right for all Las Vegas residents.”
The state Office of the State Engineer, Environment Department and the governor’s office are working closely with the City of Las Vegas to identify solutions to ensure the city’s drinking water system is not affected by burn scar flooding and debris flows. The governor will request that the Federal Emergency Management Agency fully reimburse the state for these costs under New Mexico’s existing major disaster declaration, which was amended this week to include post-fire flooding at the request of Gov. Lujan Grisham.