EPA has ordered city to have designs finished by next year

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BLOOMFIELD — The city of Bloomfield is contracting with an Albuquerque-based engineering firm for designs of the new wastewater treatment plant, which the city must build under an administrative order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The administrative order requires the city to have the final designs completed by next year, according to Bloomfield public works director Jason Thomas.

Thomas presented the agreement with Bohannan Huston Inc. to the City Council on Monday. The council unanimously approved it.

The EPA administrative order was issued in 2017. Thomas said the initial assumption was that the city could reuse existing structures and retrofit the plant with a new treatment process. That has since changed.

“We found most of the structures — the rectangular basins — are not reusable, and we have to build a new secondary treatment structure,” Thomas said. “So the scope of the project has changed.”

He said the current deadline for submission of the final designs is February, but the city will need to renegotiate a different deadline because he does not anticipate the designs will be done by then. He anticipates that Bloomfield will meet the 2024 deadline for construction of the new facility if it is able to find funding for the multimillion-dollar project. The construction of the new facility is estimated to cost $9.5 million.

Bloomfield is planning on applying for funding for construction from the New Mexico Environment Department’s Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Bohannan Huston also will help the city apply for grants and loans to fund the construction of the new plant.

“Right now, my opinion is that we won’t be able to get full funding and that we are going to be looking at a (sewer) rate increase for the final construction,” Thomas told the City Council.

The city is paying for the designs using about $725,000 of capital outlay money and nearly $63,000 from the capital equipment fund. The revenue from the fund comes from a $1 monthly fee charged for every sewer connection within the city of Bloomfield, according to Thomas.

The design also will include an option for wastewater reclamation to provide irrigation to parts of the city. The infrastructure is already in place along U.S. Highway 64 to irrigate the landscaping using reclaimed wastewater.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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