New Mexico brings to mind classic imagery of the Southwest: Native American pueblos, roasted chilis, and plenty of dry air. New Mexico is indeed dry - the fifth driest state, in fact. This means New Mexicans must be creative when it comes to sourcing their water, at times.
Much of the water provided to residents of the state of New Mexico comes from underground aquifers. Wells are used to pull this water up to the surface for dispersion by municipal systems.
Other water sources on the surface, like the Rio Grande and Santa Fe rivers, provide some areas with their drinking water. Drought is a frequent problem in New Mexico, which makes scarcity a larger threat than water quality.
The water quality of New Mexico is impacted by scarcity, as many water sources are far away from the destination. This can lead to increased opportunity for contamination and certainly aids in the buildup of absorbed minerals and earth metals known as hard water.
Common Water Problems by City
Water scarcity is common across the states, however, other issues are dependent on region and water source. Different contaminants require unique treatment methods, which can impact each water supply in their own ways.
Dry, Itchy Skin
Dry, Itchy Skin
Groundwater via Wells
Dry, Itchy Skin
The city of Albuquerque rests atop a large aquifer. Fed by the Cochiti Reservoir and other surface sources like rainfall, the aquifer is unfortunately not filling as quickly as it was once believed to be. This leads Albuquerque to seek other sources like the Rio Grande river, which runs through the city.
The use of different resources can lead to an aggressive treatment plan for any surface water source. The chemicals used during treatment make the water safe to drink but do often impart a poor taste to the water supply.
Water that travels over and through the surface often absorbs natural minerals and earth metals along the way. This creates a condition called hard water, which is rarely treated effectively before being dispersed into the public system.
Hard water can lead to problems around the house including inefficient appliances and stains around drains. Spotty dishware is common as the hard water mixes with soap products and creates a film.
The city of Las Cruces is home to New Mexico State University and lies at the boundary of the Chihuahuan Desert. The overwhelming majority of water supplying this region comes from two aquifers resting deep below the surface.
As the water travels down through the layers of sand, stone, and earth and back to the surface via pipes, it absorbs minerals and metals along the way. This leads to the water in Las Cruces being considered hard water. This can cause headaches around the house if left untreated.
Hard water is most noticeable after bathing due to its tendency to dry out the skin. Dry skin is already an issue in the arid New Mexican climate and is further exacerbated by the water quality.
Pipes can become clogged by buildups of limescale if hard water is not treated. Soap scum is also prevalent in homes using hard water, as the hard water reacts with soam creating a film that can be difficult to remove from showers and sinks.
Santa Fe is well-known for its art and jewelry businesses but is lesser known as one of the driest regions in the state. Water must be pulled to the surface by a series of wells and supplemental supplies are brought in from Southern California. The water taken from California is originally supplied by the Colorado River.
Hard water is the typical issue experience by nearly every home and business owner in Santa Fe. Those who use it for bathing typically complain of dried out skin and itchy scalps.
Appliances in homes with excessively hard water often end up performing poorly once limescale builds up in supply lines and plumbing. Limescale often leaves stains in sinks and other areas the water comes to rest.