Farmington to discuss upgrading old waterlines

Hannah Grover
Sandstone Avenue is pictured Friday at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 in Farmington. The city is securing a loan that will provide for upgrades for water pipelines in the area.

FARMINGTON – The City Council will meet Tuesday morning to discuss a proposal to take out a $3.2 million loan from the New Mexico Finance Authority to pay for the replacement of antiquated water pipelines in the south part of the city.

City Manager Rob Mayes said the loan would pay for phase one of a planned three-phase project.

There are approximately 9,300 lineal feet of pipeline that the council agenda describes as both too small and too old.

Phase one of the project will start at the intersection of Southside River Road and Sandstone Avenue. It runs south along Sandstone Avenue to the intersection of U.S. Highway 64. It then turns west along U.S. Highway 64 until the highway intersects with Camina Flora.

The waterline was installed in the 1950s during an energy boom when the city’s population expanded from approximately 3,600 residents to more than 23,000. The price to replace the lines is estimated at $8.2 million.

The small diameter of the cast-iron waterlines restricts their capacity, and city officials believe replacing them will help meet growing demand, and improve the water quality and capabilities to suppress fires in the southern part of the. The new pipelines would have a larger diameter.

This larger pipeline will increase water pressure, Mayes said. He said that will help firefighters put out blazes faster.

The loan would come at a 2 percent interest rate and the forgiveness of 25 percent of the debt, which means the city will ultimately pay back approximately $2.4 million, Mayes said.

He said the interest rate is so low that the city would actually pay more money each year to put off the project than it would pay in interest.

The city charges residents a small renewal and replacement fee on their monthly utility bill, Mayes said. That fee is earmarked so it can only be used for infrastructure upgrades. That money would help pay for the project.

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