A No Trespassing sign is shown on a fence surrounding a Lagoon in December at the end of County Road 6259 in Kirtland.
A No Trespassing sign is shown on a fence surrounding a Lagoon in December at the end of County Road 6259 in Kirtland. (Daily Times File Photo)

FARMINGTON — The Kirtland Lagoon will not close by May 20. The state-established deadline was pushed back after the project received the last of its needed funding following this year's state legislative session.

The entire project is now being designed to completion.

"We should be seeing some stuff happen in the next year," said Tom Schilz, president of Lower Valley Mutual Domestic Wastewater Association, the organization that operates the lagoon.

The sewage lagoon, which has nearly overflowed into the San Juan River twice in the past four winters, sits at the end of County Road 6259, just north of the river. It treats waste water from as many as 52 homes. It was intended for 25 homes when it was built in 1957.

The closure of the lagoon requires a lift station to pump waste to Station No. 3 at Farmington's Wastewater Treatment Plant, and that station is still being designed, County Operations Officer Mike Stark said. He expects the station's design will be completed by late April.

No interruptions of services will occur, he said.

The New Mexico Environment Department has notified the lagoon's users it will not renew the site's operation when its permit expires on May 20, but Stark is confident the lagoon will receive an eight-month extension in time for the lift station's construction and the lagoon's closure.

"If the facility does not meet this deadline and they are making a good-faith effort, (the New Mexico Environment Department can) amend the Discharge Permit and extend the deadline," Environment Department Spokesman Jim Winchester wrote in an email. He added, "But, any extension will only be determined by (the environment department) based on the work being done."

Piping also has to be installed to connect the lagoon's lift station to the series of other stations pumping to Farmington's plant. The connected homes' collections system will be replaced too.

Schilz said the project has not yet gone to bid for construction, and he doesn't know when it will, though he added that it will be soon.

"The good news is this project has been fully funded," Stark said.

New Mexico legislature, this year, allocated $996,000 in capital outlay funds adding to last year's $2 million capital outlay funding for the project. In 2012, the organization that operates the lagoon received a $90,000 loan and an $86,000 grant from the New Mexico Environment Department Construction Programs Bureau, also, to engineer and design plans to hook the lagoon's neighborhood a Lower Valley Water and Sanitation District's sewer system.

Lower Valley Water and Sanitation District will monitor the lagoon's lift station once its built, said Mark Duncan, one of the company's board members.

Schilz said the funding the lagoon project has received in the past three years is amazing. It is a testament to the project's urgency, he said.

"There is a need. We went for the solution," he said.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @Dan_J_Schwartz on Twitter.