What Happens When I Report a Leak
Report the Leak
You can report a leak, or if it's urgent, call us 575-439-4244 during normal business hours of 7:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. or 575-439-4300 if it is after hours. We will send a water operator out to investigate as soon as possible. Once the leak is reported, the online maps are updated to reflect the reported leak, and a work order is created and given to the operator in charge.
An operator is dispatched to evaluate the extent of the leak. If the leak is a service line, staff will determine if it is the city's responsibility or the customers. The city is responsible for the service line to the water meter or the property line. If the leak is on the customer's side, then it is the customer's responsibility to contact their plumber and have the work performed. If contact with the customer can not be made, a door hanger will be placed on the front door.
If the leak is the responsibility of the city, the operator will mark the area in white and contact NM811 so that all utilities, such as power, gas, communications, etc., are marked in the area prior to the area being excavated.
- Emergency locate policy allows two (2) hours for the various utility owners to respond and mark their lines before city staff can begin excavation.
- Standard locate policy allows two (2) business days for the various utility owners to respond and mark their lines before city staff can begin excavation.
How Are Leaks Prioritized?
Leaks are prioritized based on visible water, such as puddling vs. geysers, locations, such as roadways vs. sidewalks, traffic-related issues, and possible damage. If there are multiple leaks with the same severity, they will be addressed in the order they are reported.
Failures within the City's utility network are categorized into 4 classes of emergency. Examples of the types of failures are as follows:
Level I - Routine - Minor Leak - 10 Business Day Response
- The leak is not a hazard to anyone
- The leak is not resulting in property damages
- The leak is slow, or a very small leak which in many cases does not surface and only appears as a depression
- The leak is not causing any loss of water pressure to customers in the immediate vicinity
Level II - Minor - Priority Leak - 2 Business Day Response
- Steady flow or stream of water that causes a lot of attention but is not causing any property damage, including streets, curbs, gutters,s, and sidewalk
- Leaks in the street that are minor but could result in further damage if left unattended
- The surrounding customers have lower pressure or flow
- Minor failures in the treatment system components that can be mitigated by replacing or repairing equipment
Level III - Significant - Emergency Leak - Immediate Response
- Large quantity of water running resulting in property damage including streets, curbs, gutter, and sidewalk
- Leaks result in neighborhoods or businesses being without water
- The leak is a potential hazard to the public
- Customers have low-pressure or flow
Level IV - Catastrophic - Immediate Response
- Major pipe burst in the treatment or transmission system that cannot be repaired without complete shutdown of a large portion of the system
- Water quality concerns that pose a definite risk to public health
- Loss of positive pressure
- Backflow or back-siphonage of system components that result in loss of pressure somewhere in the system, causing the water flow to reverse
- Major storm events that cause complete failure of part or parts of the system
- Major interruption of service requiring possible supplemental resources
Planning the Repair
Based on the investigation, staff begins to plan what is needed for the repair and schedule a date.
- Researching maps
- Utility locates
- Traffic control plans
- Barricade placement
- Valve exercising
Some leaks require road closures, detours, and or temporary traffic controls, this can take a bit longer to organize.
It is our goal to make the repairs as quickly as possible, and while it can take up to 30 days in certain instances, we usually fix things much faster than this. Once we have the correct permissions in place, work will begin to make the repairs.
- Whenever possible, the Utility Maintenance team will come on the scheduled day to fix the reported leak, but our priority is to make sure everyone has access to clean water, so we sometimes need to change plans to carry out higher-priority emergency repairs.
- Response time on emergency repairs is immediate with regard to the two (2) hours locate policy.
We try to avoid turning anyone’s water off unless we absolutely have to.
During the time of the repair, customers may experience lower-than-normal water pressure, water discoloration, or temporary disruption in their water service. We ask customers to please use caution as they navigate around our equipment and, most importantly, our staff.
What Do I Do?
We recommend customers take any necessary precautions to protect their water system by limiting their water use. If you have any questions, please contact the Utilities Department at 575-439-4244 for assistance.
When the Water Comes Back On
There will likely be air in your water service piping when the water is turned back on. It is a good idea to run water from a faucet that does not have an aerator screen immediately following a water outage. Bathtubs and hosed bibs are good candidates. Open faucets slowly to allow the air to escape. Air will make a spurting or hissing sound as it escapes through the faucet. Once the water is flowing, allow the faucet to run for a minute or two. The water may be cloudy at first due to air in the water or particles that dislodged as the pipes filled with water. This should clear fairly quickly. If water is cloudy throughout the house and it does not clear after allowing the water to run for several minutes, contact the Utilities Department at 575-439-4244 for assistance.
If kitchen or bathroom faucets do not perform normally following a water outage, it may be necessary to remove the aerator screen. Typically the aerator can simply be unscrewed from the faucet. Inspect the screen for small particles and rinse away any you find. Reinstall the aerator and test the performance of the faucet again. If you experience difficulties such as low pressure throughout the house following a water outage, call the Utilities Department at 575-439-4244 for assistance.
How Long Does it Take to Repair a Water Leak?
Unfortunately, every water valve repair is different. While a temporary fix may take as little as a few hours, completely repairing the water leak may take days or even weeks. It may require the repaving of roads or the addition of soil to stabilize the area.
While the City's goal is to restore water services as quickly as possible, it must be done safely and without risking additional damage to the system. We appreciate your patience and understanding.
When the repair is complete, Utility Maintenance staff will evaluate the condition of the excavation site to determine what is needed to backfill the area. In most cases, a slight over-excavation is made to dry soil, and the hole is backfilled and compacted immediately. Backfill may take longer, depending on the severity of the leak and the soil classification. In either case, barricades are brought in to secure the open excavation to provide awareness and safety for our customers.
Once the excavation has been backfilled, staff will create a work order to the Streets division for the paving repair if necessary.