Candelaria faucets run dry over the weekend

CANDELARIA – Running water was restored to nearly 50 houses in Candelaria after the town’s backup well failed over the weekend. A motor failure left faucets empty on Friday, and the backup well was not repaired until Monday.

Candelaria’s primary well has been broken since Thanksgiving, and the unincorporated community was depending solely on their secondary well for potable water, a source that already does not produce as much water, according to County Judge Cinderela Guevara.

Noemi Madrid, a longtime Candelaria resident, said water became scarce for her family on Friday, and eventually the faucets ran dry. “Many of [Candelaria’s] residents were in Presidio, and when they returned, there was no water,” said Madrid, who lives in one of the affected homes with her husband and four children, ages 17, 15, 10, and 5.

Chief Deputy Joel Nuñez and Deputy Andrea Hinojos of the Presidio County Sheriff’s Office delivered a pallet of bottled water to residents on Saturday, and Ruben Carrasco, a county employee, delivered a water tanker truck’s worth of water for residents to use for washing and other household use.

“Thank you to those who brought us water because we needed drinking water,” Madrid said.

Before the tanker arrived Saturday, the majority of families had already left town, going to Presidio or across the border to San Antonio del Bravo to stay with family.

“I wish we could have done more,” Nuñez said. “It’s a hardship for them out there. We need someone in charge there. I strongly believe in preventative maintenance,” he said of the water system.

In October, the Presidio County Commissioners Court awarded a $259,000 contract to Kleinman Consultants to rehabilitate the town’s two water wells, particularly to remove the arsenic that had been discovered. Ramon Carrasco of Kleinman was uncertain of when the project would begin, but said the consultancy hopes to complete the refurbishment of both wells by March 15th . According to Carrasco, the awarded grant covers repairs to the wells’ pumps, motors, controls and electrical, in addition to chlorination and removal of arsenic. The county laid out $220,000 for construction, and $39,000 for engineering.

Kleinman has contracted Skinner’s Drilling & Well Service LLC out of Alpine for the repairs. Judge Guevara received a call at 7:20am Monday that John Skinner was dispatching to assess the well. Skinner replaced the secondary well’s 1.5 horsepower motor on Monday, and water was running in Candelaria soon after. The full cost is unknown to the county at this point, but this stopgap repair of Candelaria’s backup well is estimated at $1,200.

Judge Guevara emphasized her gratitude to all those who helped out in Candelaria during the outage, saying, “I just want to give a big shout out to the Road and Bridge Department, Sheriff’s Office, City of Presidio, Vicki and Ramon Carrasco of Kleinman Consultants, Mark Pearson and Kathryn Lucero of Communities Unlimited Inc., Rosa Elva Madrid and Jim Bloomberg for assisting Presidio County in getting water to the residents of Candelaria when their second water well went down this weekend. The well went out on Friday afternoon and all of the above worked promptly to make sure the residents had potable and drinking water immediately. My words can never be enough to praise your actions.

“On behalf of the Commissioner’s Court, you deserve all our appreciation and your committed service is really valuable to us. You make us proud!!!! Thank you.”

Rosario Salgado Halpern contributed to this report.