Main Water Pipeline Break

Subscribe RSS Icon | What is RSS
Date: January 5, 2015

                                                              PIPELINE DAMAGE MORE SEVERE THAN ORGINALLY THOUGHT

CARLSBAD, NM Carlsbad Caverns National Park is currently operating under "limited services" due to a damaged water supply system. Over the New Year's oliday, southeast New Mexico experienced subfreezing temperatures causing the park's fresh water pipeline to freeze and burst. Initially, about 1,000 feet of
pipeline was thought to be affected, but after partial thawing, it became evident that most of the 6,900 feet of aboveground pipeline was severely damaged. The damaged pipe is 8" cement- lined, ductile iron pipe that was installed in the early '60s.

"Services at the park will be affected because of the impact of the broken distribution line," said Chuck Burton, acting superintendent and facilities manager at Carlsbad Caverns. "I'm very proud of the park staff for enthusiastically maintaining visitor services while we work to repair the damaged line." Visitors will have
access to drinking fountains and restrooms inside the cave, although the above ground restrooms are closed. The park has provided portable lavatories in the visitor
center parking lot.

The restaurant's food services are also limited to cold items. Bottled beverages, including water, are available for purchase or you may bring your own. No coffee is available.

Burton will meet with an engineer from the National Park Service's Denver office to prepare a short and long-term solution to the water issue. A few ideas being considered are: putting in 6,900 feet of temporary pipe to reroute around the damaged section;installing a 1,000-gallon pressurized storage tank;or putting variable speed drives on the well pumps. An interim fix is expected to be completed within two weeks.

The park recently received approval on a long-term solution to bury the 6,900 feet of pipe. That project will begin shortly and take about two months to complete.
"Once the pipe is buried," Burton said, "We won't have to constantly be concerned that freezing temperatures could damage our water supply."

The park is open under regular winter hours, 8 a.m. –5 p.m. For more information, please visit our website at or call the park's general information line at 575-785-2232.


About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 401 national properties and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at


Last updated: February 24, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, NM 88220


(575) 785-2232

Contact Us