Thursday, September 28, 2023

Town Water Woes Risk Eroding State Money


By Bill Diven

Water is welcome but not where Bernalillo has been finding it - slowly draining from a major street and leaking too often from neighborhood water lines.

Relief is coming on both fronts and money is now flowing to upgrade the water lines. However, for the flooding on and near Camino Don Tomas, the problem isn't funding but finding a contractor to do the work before the state demands its money back.

"My concern is this water sits there for several hours, sometime a day or so," Virginia Garcia said at the Oct. 10 Town Council meeting. "Is this damaging the walkway that was put in there by the town? What's happened to the sidewalks?

"Sometimes it reaches all the way to my property line."

Public Works Director Troy Martinez told councilors the problem is with a French drain, basically a covered gravel trench buried beside Camino Don Tomas. Storm water from curbside drains percolates from the gravel to the aquifer.

The town pumps the water out of the street if necessary but with the ground saturated from monsoon rains and silt affecting the gravel, the percolation has been even slower, he said. The project to widen the drain and clean the gravel will also include installing a storm drain from perpetually flooding Calle del Coronado to the French drain.

Now the town just needs to find a contractor willing to take on the small job, Martinez said.

"There are few contactors and a lot of projects," he continued. "This is a tiny project, so to them it's not a priority."

On top of that, the state wants its funding back if the town doesn't spend it by the end of the year. While Martinez said the work still might happen by then, councilors approved a request asking the state for a one-year extension to complete the work.

The other project is part of an ongoing town effort to replace aging water lines that regularly break, wasting water and tying up Public Works crews. The $1.5 million project now in the design phase addresses an area along Richardson Drive and Oak Streets east of downtown and along Calle Malinche and Calle Don Francisco from Town Hall to the west and south.

Beyond stopping leaks, the work also adds fire hydrants to those locations. The work is funded by capital outlay appropriated by the Legislature and approved by the governor.


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