The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Officials warning of water concerns

People using private wells within a few miles of Cannon advised to use bottled water


October 17, 2018

If you use a private well within a few miles southeast of Cannon Air Force Base, the state’s Environment Department recommends you use bottled water until further notice.

That’s following word from the U.S. Air Force that potentially carcinogenic chemicals “have been detected in groundwater on and off-base,” according to a health department news release.

The culprit chemicals, known as “Per- and Poly-Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS),” are “associated with fire-fighting foams — used by Cannon Air Force Base personnel” and “may be associated with an increased risk of cancer and other health ailments.”

Monitoring wells on base were found to be “in excess of 70 parts per trillion” or nanograms per Liter (ng/L) of the possible contaminants, occasioning an “expanded site inspection,” CAFB’s media spokesman told The News.

That inspection detected PFAS “in a small number of the 19 off-base wells tested thus far,” some of which “supply drinking water to local dairies.” For the off-base wells, the Air Force reported detections “with concentrations ranging from 25 to 1,600” ng/L; on base, monitoring wells were found to have concentrations in excess of 26,000 ng/L.

“The Air Force has informed affected residents of the test results and is making bottled water available for drinking and cooking for wells that exceed the 70 ng/L Health Advisory,” said the release Tuesday afternoon from NMED’s Communications Director Katy Diffendorfer.

“Until further testing confirms an ‘all clear,’ the use of bottled water for those residents and businesses with private domestic wells within a 4-mile radius of the Cannon AFB property boundary is recommended.”

Officials in Clovis and Portales said they have no concerns with city water supplies.

Diffendorfer wrote that NMED is overseeing the Air Force’s investigation of the contamination and required “further, extensive sampling of the affected area by the USAF.”

In a letter dated late last month, NMED “required the Air Force to submit a comprehensive proposal to further delineate the groundwater plume; sample all water supply wells within a four-mile radius of the southeastern corner of the Air Force base; supply drinking water to affected well owners; and to resample the drinking water system on the Base.”

The state’s Department of Health and Department of Agriculture are also working “to ensure that the Air Force address this issue,” continued the release.

NMDA has also requested an “expedited” decision from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to “immediately determine if any impacts on health exist,” since “this is an emerging issue across the nation with minimal available scientific data.”

Residents are encouraged to contact the NMDOH’s Epidemiology and Response Division’s on-call line at 505-827-0006 for consultation on how to get their well tested or understand well testing results.

Find more information on PFAS from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:


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