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What is Manganese?

Manganese is a naturally occurring metal in New Mexico's geology that can dissolve into groundwater. It may also get into the environment from industrial processes and products. In water, the most common result of high a manganese concentration are aesthetic effects (black/brown color, and bitter taste) and build up on pipes that can cause plumbing problems.

Manganese in Private Wells, New Mexico

Manganese levels in water samples from private wells vary between New Mexico counties and even within the same county. The groundwater system in New Mexico is very complex. This complexity can lead to manganese concentration variability even amongst neighboring wells. Therefore, to know the manganese concentration in your water from your own well, you need to test.

Levels of various naturally-occurring and man-made constituents in New Mexico groundwater including manganese, might be elevated above the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safe Drinking Water secondary standards (related to odor, color, and taste). Ongoing drought conditions and aquifer mining have raised further concern that increases in constituents may occur in the absence of significant ground water recharge events.

The information available in this section, including the maps, demonstrates manganese found in tested private wells in New Mexico based on the data available from various sources.

Manganese distribution interpolated groundwater iron concentrations (mcg/L) from private wells data Jan. 1964 - Apr. 2018
Average manganese distribution in groundwater by county (mcg/L) from private wells data Jan. 1964 - Apr. 2018
Manganese distribution in New Mexico: Percentage of samples exceeding the EPA secondary MCL of 0.05 mg/L Jan. 1964 - Apr. 2018

Manganese in Drinking Water and Health

Manganese is essential for some bodily processes and can be found in a variety of foods, soil, water, and air. The body more easily absorbs manganese from water than food. Manganese in well water is not usually associated with health problems, however, long-term exposure to manganese in drinking water above 0.3 milligrams per Liter (mg/L) may be associated with neurotoxicity related health problems in some people, including muscle weakness.

The secondary safe drinking water concentration for manganese, related to aesthetics (color and taste), is 0.05 milligrams per liter (mg/L). Some of the water samples from wells in all counties (with 20 or more samples) appear to exceed this Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safe Drinking Water secondary standard. Drinking water containing manganese more than EPA's standard could contribute to undesirable color, and taste and may contribute to problems in plumbing systems. Manganese build up in plumbing systems may stain plumbing fixtures, reduce water flow, and affect water using appliances.

How can manganese be removed from drinking water?

Treatment of water can vary depending on water chemistry. It is important to test your water before choosing a water treatment system. A licensed well contractor or water quality professional may help with choosing the right treatment system for your water chemistry.

For additional guidance choosing a treatment system certified to remove iron consult with the Water Quality Association or at 630-505-0160 or NSF international (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation) or at 1-800-NSF-MARK (1-800-673-6275).

How to find water quality information for public water systems

If you get your water from a public drinking water system, contact:

  • Your community water system by telephone
  • Look up your community water system online through the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Drinking Water Watch
  • Call the NMED Drinking Water Bureau, TOLL FREE 1-877-654-8720