An official with the New Mexico Environment Department confirmed this week that state staff is investigating possible violations of the Operator Certification Act at one of Ruidoso's water treatment plants.

Jim Winchester, communications director for the NMED and Energy, Minerals & Natural Resources Department, said, "I can confirm we are looking into (possible violations) and I stress the word 'possible.'

"This is still an open investigation, so there is no final report at this point. That's all I can release at this time."

No response was received by Thursday to a request for comment from the village manager, attorney or utilities director. However, the incident may have involved the discovery by state ED inspectors of the inappropriate placement of a filter that would result in an inaccurate turbidity reading.

Over an 11-month period, the village has been cited seven times for problems in its water quality reporting, none involved water unfit for human consumption.

According to the New Mexico Environment Department web site, "all Public Water Systems (PWS) must be operated by a certified operator in accordance with the New Mexico Utility Operator Certification Act.

"Certified operators are professionals who need to understand the different aspects of a water system, know the regulatory requirements and how to properly collect and submit water samples, and plan for the future needs of a water system."