Wastewater floods the Jemez River

By: - April 13, 2023 4:15 am

Flood waters caused the wastewater from a treatment plant in Jemez Springs, N.M., to overflow into the Jemez River. (Photo courtesy Veesees / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The wastewater treatment plant in the northern New Mexico village of Jemez Springs flooded Wednesday, overflowing into the Jemez River.

Jemez Springs Police Chief Felix Nuñez told KUNM the flood’s impact on the plant was a surprise.

“What happened was — because of the mass of water coming through — the pumps overheated and just failed,” said Nuñez. “By them failing, it caused a reaction of return of waste into the river.”

He said his department has been using pump trucks to relieve the system of flood water and is receiving guidance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Officials with the Santa Fe National Forest said in a statement that the flood was caused by spring snow melt.

The Forest Services has closed all roads and gates south of the treatment plant indefinitely, along with southern campgrounds including Vista Linda the Bluffs, Spanish Queen, River’s Bend, San Diego, Las Casitas and La Junta.

The agency said it’s also in the process of installing signage to discourage fishing and drinking the contaminated river water.

You can contact the Jemez Ranger District for more information. For updates on road conditions, dial 511.

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Nash Jones, KUNM News
Nash Jones, KUNM News

Nash Jones (they/them) grew up in Albuquerque and returned home in 2017 after 11 years away living in Portland, OR, and Oakland, CA. Storytelling and community education have consistently been at the core of Nash’s varied career and are, in part, what brought them to KUNM, first as a volunteer host with Spoken Word Hour and NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, then as a staff member in the KUNM newsroom, hosting Morning Edition (2018-2021) and reporting. Nash currently hosts NPR's All Things Considered and continues to report for KUNM.