Erik LeDuc/Ruidoso News  The village of Ruidoso will be taking a look at rehabilitating and expanding water storage at Alto Dam, pictured here, after heavy
Erik LeDuc/Ruidoso News The village of Ruidoso will be taking a look at rehabilitating and expanding water storage at Alto Dam, pictured here, after heavy rains upstream brought loads of silt and debris downstream, filling up the waterway. (null)

RUIDOSO - Ruidoso village councilors Tuesday eliminated three of five proposals to rehabilitate and expand Alto Lake Reservoir with the goal of increasing the village's water supply storage capacity.

Storage tanks also were removed as an alternative to working on the reservoir. Councilors Denise Dean and Gloria Sayers previously asked consultant Ed Poms of URS Corporation to examine the possibility of adding more storage tanks as an option, but when he delivered the cost comparison, they quickly backed away from that approach.

"A lot of tanks would be needed to match the reservoir," he told them, placing the figure at 24, 5-million-gallon tanks. "And you would need 25 acres to 30 acres of land and possible pump stations to lift the water to the tanks."

Erik LeDuc/Ruidoso News  The village of Ruidoso will be taking a look at rehabilitating and expanding water storage at Alto Dam, pictured here, after heavy
Erik LeDuc/Ruidoso News The village of Ruidoso will be taking a look at rehabilitating and expanding water storage at Alto Dam, pictured here, after heavy rains upstream brought loads of silt and debris downstream, filling up the waterway. (null)

He estimated $160 million just for the tanks and a final price tag about five times the expense of using surface water storage.

A downstream dam also was dismissed.

"(Village Manager Debi Lee) has indicated we have to have our PER (preliminary engineering report) turned into you folks by mid-September so you can process it and obtain funding for the next project and that's what we're focused on," he said. "I don't mind taking two alternatives forward to develop budget-level cost estimates."

The budget-level cost estimate and development plan for the alternative finally selected could be submitted with a village application for funding from either the state Water Trust Board or the New Mexico Finance Authority, he said.

At a minimum for the first phase, the structure at Alto Dam should be rehabilitated to maintain the current 330 acre feet of storage capacity to ensure the state doesn't issue a drain order, he said. An acre foot equates to 325,851 gallons of water.

If both Grindstone Reservoir and Alto were at capacity, the village would be able to draw on 2,281 acre feet, but because of problems with both dams, Grindstone is limited to 950 acre feet and Alto to 330 acre feet. The village needs 1,890 acre feet of reservoir storage to meet the annual demand of about 1,260 acre feet and a growth factor, Poms said.

The second phase would be aimed at enlarging Alto Reservoir to maximize storage at 761.21 acre feet, Poms said. The construction would be a roller compacted concrete dam because the technology is better than in 1982, when Grindstone was one of the first built, he told Councilor Jim Stoddard, who worried the village would experience similar leakage problems.

After reviewing five possible alternatives for enlarging the capacity and their related costs, Stoddard said the obvious choices were Alternatives 3 and 4. A motion by Mayor Pro-Tempore Rafael Salas for URS to pursue those two options passed unanimously.

Alternative 3 consists of enlarging the existing reservoir to 450 acre feet and building a new reservoir with 312 acre feet. The project could be accomplished in three phases beginning with rehabilitating the existing reservoir, and for an estimated total cost of $37 million, Poms said.

Alternative 4 consists of decommissioning the existing reservoir and building a new lake with a 762 acre feet storage capacity. That alternative cannot be accomplished in phases and the estimated cost is $29 million, he said. The costs of the other three eliminated alternatives ranged from a low of $31 million to a high of $45 million.

The environmental and social impacts of the selected two alternatives were rated nearly equal, as was engineering feasibility in the company's ranking of the projects. Alternative 4 was ranked higher because of lower construction costs.