Construction to start on sewer, solar projects

Hannah Grover
Recent construction for a new sewer line is evident on Tuesday on Western Drive in Aztec.

FARMINGTON — Residents of a southwest Aztec neighborhood will see an increase in construction as two major projects are built this year, including a $4.27 million sewer line.

Construction on a 1 megawatt solar field is expected to begin next week and construction on a sewer outfall line will begin this summer. The sewer line will start near the Money Saving Bridge, a one-lane bridge connecting West Aztec Boulevard to Chaco Street, and will run along the Eledge Ditch to Western Drive. The line will be built down the center of Western Drive to the waste water treatment plant at the end of South Oliver Drive.

Commissioners unanimously approved Smithco Construction Inc.'s bid of approximately $3.5 million for the sewer outfall line during a meeting on Tuesday.

"Every foot of this project is critical to flow of sanitary sewer system processes," said city manager Joshua Ray. "The flow of crap is very important."

City Engineer William Watson said the sewer outfall line is the main sewer line that transfers waste water to the treatment plant. The new line will follow a similar course to the current line.

Watson said one difference between the new line and the current one is that the new one will run down the center of Western Drive.

"I want the sewer line out here in the streets so we can get at it and repair it," he said.

While Smithco Construction Inc. will build the line, Wilson Engineering will oversee the construction and at a cost to the city of about $366,000. In total, the project will cost approximately $4.27 million.

The project will be funded by a Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan of a little more than $5 million, which the city will have 20 years to repay.

The new sewer line could potentially lead to increased sewer rates. Ray said the commission will have to discuss sewer rates some time in the next 12 months. He said a utility rate study is currently in progress.

"Hopefully we'll have some idea what those rates are going to be sooner rather than later," he said.

Recent construction on a new sewer line is evident on Tuesday on Western Drive in Aztec.

Construction on the sewer line will begin at the waste water treatment plant. One concern Watson has about the project is the depth of the trench. He said the trench will be 15 to 20 feet deep, which could cause groundwater to fill up the trench, especially near the Eledge Ditch.

"When the ditch fills up with water, the ground water also comes up," Watson said.

He said most of the construction near the Eledge Ditch will be done during the winter when the gates to the ditch are closed.

After the line is built, Western Drive — which was torn up earlier this year when the gas line was moved to make way for the sewer line — will require reconstruction. Restoration of other impacted streets is built into the project, however Western Drive will be reconstructed as part of a separate project.

During the construction, residents will not be able to park along Western Drive, however the city will have a parking lot available on the corner of Newman Avenue and Western Drive.

The residents on Western Drive will also be affected by the construction of the solar array, which will be located in Townsend Wildlife Refuge, south of Western Drive. The solar field will be accessed off of Swire Avenue. There will be a groundbreaking for the project at 11 a.m. May 19 at that location.

"It's a major project for our city and our community and for the entire southwest part of the United States," Ray said.

The solar field will produce 1 megawatt of energy using 4,000 panels, he said. Ray said there will be 36 individual panels on each solar array and more than 100 arrays on the five-acres of land in southwest Aztec.

"We won't know what it looks like until we actually see it," he said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.