Is the Drinking Water in Alamogordo & Holloman Air Force Base
Safe to Drink? YES!
History & Understanding of our Local Drinking Water
A brief history of the water underneath Holloman Air Force Base. The groundwater has been unusable as far back as people have been testing it. It was found that the water was not even suitable for watering livestock back when the basin first was being developed in the 1800s. The water is brackish (salty) to the point that current treatment techniques are not suitable for making this water usable. HAFB has never received any of its drinking water from the source located underneath the base for this very reason.
With the introduction of AFFF in the 1970s, the groundwater around the base has now become even more unusable. AFFF is a foam fire fighting agent used at military installations across the nation. The AFFF generally contained per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in which the perfluorooctane acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) have been found in monitoring wells located on the west side of the base.
Fortunately for Alamogordo, the alluvial flow runs in a south-western pattern and the base is located downstream or west southwest of the city. The Sacramento Mountains are located east of both the city and the base. Alamogordo is located on the west-facing foothills of the Sacramento Mountains which helps further protect the source waters from this particular contamination due to the higher elevation in conjunction with the alluvial flow.
Alamogordo historically receives the majority of its water from the Sacramento mountains through surface collection, infiltration galleries, springs, and via an 88-mile pipeline from the Bonito Lake Reservoir located north of Ruidoso, NM.
The City does utilize groundwater to help meet high demand during the summer months through wells located both north and south of Alamogordo. All groundwater sources are located several miles upstream in the alluvial flow or east of Holloman Air Force Base. The base also receives its water from the same watershed also located in the foothills of these same mountains.
What is the City doing as it relates to PFAS/PFOA?
Beginning in 2013, the City Water Treatment Division has collected samples throughout the groundwater system in which results were negative for the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS/PFOA. The Water Treatment Division is currently working with the USGS in collecting water samples from all ground and surface source water points. We anticipate this project to be complete by the end of 2021. If any of the sources yield positive results and the results are above the MCL, then removal of that source would happen immediately followed by engineered remediation and implementation plan.
The New Mexico Environment Department and the City of Alamogordo Water Treatment Division previously conducted assessments to determine the susceptibility of each drinking water source to potential contaminant sources. The findings and maps are available in the Water & Sewer Operations section of the City website ( https://ci.alamogordo.nm.us/315/Water-Sewer-Operations ).
The City is confident that with the years of sampling already performed, the location of our water sources and the variety of source water the City can draw from, that we will continue to produce water that is safe for our customers for many generations.