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It’s time to send in the National Guard
The situation at the Harvest Gold subdivision has taken yet another bad turn. Madam Governor, it’s time to send in the National Guard.
With the recent failure of the Harvest Gold subdivision’s water system the actual physical danger to those citizens is also increasing.
The mercury is creeping up to record levels, even for New Mexico, and there’s no potable water for drinking coming from the taps. Many swamp coolers in those homes are either damaged by sediment from the lousy water or simply dry due to lack of water.
People are literally suffering. These are not wealthy people. Many are renters, some low income, some with disabilities.
One household with 10 people, two of them disabled, noted on our Facebook page that they can’t flush the toilets, and can’t afford to move elsewhere. They say they didn’t even know about the dire water situation when they moved in, and don’t have the thousands of dollars it would take to pull up stakes.
That’s not just an awful situation, it’s the kind of thing that should not happen in 2017 in an industrialized nation.
Clean water is right up there with electricity and public health standards, the basic things that last century lifted America to higher living standards and longer life spans.
Legislation is a long-term solution for the bureaucratic mess that has kept local agencies from being able to legally move forward at a rapid pace to take over the failed public utility that left its customers with bad water, and then no water.
The National Guard could bring in water, perhaps set up a temporary filtration system so water from a nearby ditch could be processed and filtered into a safe drinking water source.
Anyone who thinks calling in the guard is an overreaction isn’t sitting in a crowded household in record heat with no water source, or even trying to maintain even a small household under those trying conditions.
It isn’t the same kind of emergency as a flood, it’s the exact opposite. The water utility has failed, there will be a time lag before any formal agency can help out. An emergency declaration from the county is moving at a snail’s pace.
There’s a cruel irony in this situation: a group of renters and homeowners are so close to potable water, but they just can’t reach it.
The county’s emergency services folks did reach out a hand by trying to organize water donations, but that’s not enough, despite great intentions.
This is a situation where leadership and action are required. Some agency must get involved in a hands-on way and provide a temporary way to provide basic access to a safe water source.
Since local government agencies either don’t seem willing or able to go that extra mile, it’s time for our state’s highest elected leader to do something.
There are many problems and distractions, nationally as well as locally, that weigh on the minds of state leaders.
This small but serious situation should rise to the top of those concerns because, frankly, this train wreck in the making is avoidable.
This ball is in the governor’s court.