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FARMINGTON — Construction is underway on a $22 million expansion of the Farmington wastewater treatment plant.

The City Council approved a loan in May from the New Mexico Environment Department to fund the project. Jeff Smaka, the wastewater administrator, said construction began in August and includes the installation of modern filtration ponds and disinfection equipment at the facility.

The wastewater system is the largest in San Juan County and can handle 6.67 million gallons of sewage daily, according to The Daily Times archives.

The expansion is the third phase of a project that began with work at the inlet and head works of the treatment plant in 2000, Smaka said. He said once the project is completed, the plant will have up-to-date technology.

"We have never been out of (federal) compliance," Smaka said.

The expansion and infrastructure improvements will bring help keep the plant, located on South Lake Street, in compliance with stricter federal regulations in the future.

Smaka said the expansion provides for future growth and includes concrete structures that will need to be equipped as the system grows.

City Manager Rob Mayes said the customers will not see rates increase as a result of the project. While the project is expensive, "it's one we have to do to remain in compliance with the EPA," Mayes said.

He said the project also includes a change in technology for treating the sewage.

"Not only are we expanding, we're modernizing the treatment process," Mayes said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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