Funding questions remain as Bloomfield moves forward with upgrades at the wastewater plant
AZTEC — Public Works Director Jason Thomas described the $11 million renovation of the wastewater treatment plant as the most complicated project the city has ever undertaken because of the technology involved.
“We have tapped seven different pots of money to fund this project,” Thomas said on April 27 during a City Council meeting.
While the project is fully funded, some of those funds, such as $850,000 in capital outlay funding, may be placed in jeopardy by the economic crisis at the state level. In addition to the capital outlay funds, the project also received $806,500 in water trust board funding during the legislative session.
Following the legislative session, the combination of the coronavirus pandemic and the plummeting oil prices led to calls for a special session that would focus on cutting the budget. Those budget cuts could mean clawing back capital outlay awards.
Bloomfield did receive funding from the New Mexico Environment Department's Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund last year in the amount of $11 million. This required the city to raise rates by $3.25 per thousand gallons of water usage.
Bloomfield hoped to use capital outlay and water trust board funding to reduce the amount of debt the city will have at the end of the project.
Thomas encouraged the city to send the project out to bid for construction. If the bids come back higher than anticipated, he said the city can rethink some aspects of the project. He said federal stimulus money could also be available for infrastructure projects like the water reclamation facility.
Bloomfield is required to upgrade the plant by December 2024 following an administrative order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The City Council approved increasing the amount it is paying the contractor Bohannon Houston Inc. to include additional services such as relocating the controls for the headworks and design of new features downstream of the chlorine contact chamber. The new features include a new effluent discharge line. The total cost for those additional services is $62,715 plus tax.
The city is also contracting with Bohannon Houston for construction-based services for a total of $891,000. This is not the construction contract, but Bohannon Houston will oversee construction and do regular inspections.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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