AZTEC — A stretch of aging sewer pipe that has caused backups and property damage for residents in the hills east of Aztec High School could soon be replaced.

At Tuesday's City Commission meeting, officials will decide whether to approve a bid for $150,000 in construction work to replace the old sewer line that crosses private property with a new 1,635-foot line to be located under East Blanco Street, between Arriba and Pollard Avenues.

If approved, the work, by TRC Construction, a Flora Vista company that specializes in pipeline and utility installation, is slated to begin early next month, said Aztec Projects Manager Ed Kotyk. "This project is a priority. The old line runs under people's properties, is failing and old, probably from the 1950s or 1960s," Kotyk said. "Over the years, there has been problems with stoppage and backups because of (the existing line's) age. This replacement will fix that and also is going to help people further up the line with improved service."

Design plans include service extensions for residents. These line extensions will hook up the new sewer line to each residence's existing connection points. "Requiring customers to change their connection point would create a financial hardship," reads a Staff Summary Report written by Aztec Finance Director Kathy Lamb.

"The new service line will be installed under Blanco Street and be patched over with asphalt," Kotyk said. "Until we get funding to redo the road, we're going to go this route. Blanco is a poorly designed road. It's a step above a rural road, essentially it's a gravel road that got paved, but lacks standard (features) like curbs and gutters, sidewalks."

Plans to improve the street itself will be scheduled after the city updates its 10-year street plan, which sets schedules for repair based on priority set after updated assessments are made, Kotyk said.

The total project is estimated to cost $147,136 and will be paid for by the fiscal year 2014 annual adopted budget, the city's joint utility fund and from the waste-water collection department.

Roughly half a dozen residents had to allow easements for the construction work, which is anticipated to require no more than two months to complete. Included in the construction bid documents is a $500-per-calendar-day (for up to 10 days) incentive to the contractor to get the job done early and $500 charged per calendar day for each day the project is late.

For residents who have had raw sewage back up into their homes through the years, construction can't come too soon.

Don Seibel has lived at his Blanco Street home since 1979. The existing sewer line runs right under his back porch.

"(The sewer line) overflows on the manholes, it backs up," Seibel said. "It's an old line. It's time for it to go."

Patricia Sword, a retiree who has lived at her Pollard Avenue home with her husband, Steve, for more than 25 years, is grateful for the proposed construction after years of messy backups and damage.

"Somebody pours grease in the line and it backs up into our house," Sword said. "We've had to replace tiles in the bathroom, tear up carpet. It's backed up so much that it ate up the tub lining. We haven't had a good experience. We've gotten lots of promises through the years, so this is good news."



James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.