Despite official's concerns, many Totah Subdivision residents aren't worried about septic-well contamination

Dan Schwartz
The Daily Times

TOTAH SUBDIVISION — Many of the residents in the Totah subdivision south of Farmington either haven't heard of the neighborhood's potential well water contamination or aren't concerned.

"Hadn't really crossed my mind," Francisco Gomez said Friday standing outside his home on Ouray Street.

In July, San Juan County requested $100,000 from the New Mexico Finance Authority to study the subdivision's wells and septic systems. Property owners and septic pumpers say residents could be drinking well water contaminated with sewage from leaking septic tanks. The nearly 40-acre neighborhood contains more than 100 addresses, an area too densely inhabited to allow many septic systems proper spacing from wells, officials say.

This week, the New Mexico Environment Department and New Mexico Department of Health are hosting free well water testing in the Sycamore Park Community Center at 1051 Sycamore St. in Farmington. County residents can stop by from noon to 5:30 p.m. on Monday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Gomez said he wants Farmington to extend water and sewer lines to the subdivision because contamination is always possible, though he's never been too concerned about it. Mainly, he said, the lines would save him the trouble of pumping his tank.

Other subdivision residents said they weren't worried that their septic systems might be contaminating their wells. Some said they'd installed new septic systems further from their wells, and others said they'd never given it much thought.

But Ruben Estrada, who lives on Silver Street, said she's seen septic tanks with sewage bubbling out of the ground.

"It's not good," she said Friday standing in her yard.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.