ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority says it has had enough of the back and forth over the Kirtland Air Force Base jet fuel spill.
The authority wants something to be done now to prevent the fuel from contaminating Albuquerque’s water supply. The Water Utility Authority says they no longer have the luxury of time.
The Ridgecrest well field at Zuni and San Pablo provides 20 percent of the city’s drinking water and officials say it’s in danger of being contaminated.
The spill was discovered in 1999 and the leak may have been happening for decades. The size of the spill is estimated at anywhere up to 24 million gallons.
The Water Utility Authority board says it’s been working with Kirtland for the last six years. In that time, they say not a single gallon of fuel has been removed from the groundwater which hasn’t yet reached water utility wells.
Officials worry that a highly toxic cancer-causing chemical found in the fuel spill will contaminate the city’s drinking water.
Earlier this month, the state rejected Kirtland’s plan to solve the problem.
The Water Utility Authority’s plan would include setting up several small wells to pump up to 600 gallons of that fuel-soaked water every minute.
Ultimately, though, they can only submit a plan to Kirtland. It’s then up to Kirtland and the state’s Environment Department to carry things out.
“They are the ones charged with actually carrying out the remediation. The Water Utility Authority is just coming forward with an idea that would preserve the aquifer – the health of the aquifer – in a way that I think is much greater efficiency that all the proposals we’ve seen before,” said hydrogeologist Dr. John Sigda.
Sigda says this would likely only serve as a short-term fix.
As for cost, it’s unclear just how much this clean-up could run. Kirtland would foot the bill.
The Water Utility Authority hopes Kirtland takes action on a plan within a year.
KRQE News 13 tried reaching out to the base, but did not hear back.