Gov. Susana Martinez signed a bill Friday morning authorizing $218.1 million in severance tax bonds to fund a variety of projects statewide. That included $2 million for Kirtland Lagoon, an aging sewage treatment pond.
The lagoon will be replaced with a modern pump station, part of a system that will send the sewage to a treatment plant.
"We're very grateful for those funds," said Kim Carpenter, San Juan County Chief Executive in a phone interview Friday evening. "We'll begin the process of biting into the real issues."
The lagoon project is not within the county's jurisdiction, Carpenter said.
"It's a state department of environment issue, but the county is working to identify a solution. If not, water will be shut off and that's not good (for those residents)," he said.
The county has already secured $186,000 for a system upgrade design, said Mike Stark, the county's chief operations officer.
"We've awarded the (design) project to HDR out of Albuquerque," he said. "We're trying to finalize a contract with them."
The state's $2 million should become available by June or July, Stark said.
"The design might not be complete, but then we'll be able to move right into construction," he said. "The $2 million will go to decommissioning the lagoon and replacing it with a (pump) station."
The sewage lagoon replacement project took on a sense of urgency after the New Mexico Environment Department handed down a deadline. It determined that the lagoon will be shut down on May 20, 2014.
The $2 million, however, covers a little more than half the cost of the renovation project. The entire $3.3 million project also calls for building new gravity sewer lines.
"The challenge is going to be how to identify additional funds in the future," Carpenter said.
Greg Yee may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4606. Follow him on Twitter @GYeeDT.