Peralta learns wastewater system to cost millions more

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Peralta's proposed wastewater system, which will link up to Bosque Farms, will cost tens of millions more than previously thought, according to a preliminary engineering report.

The report said the project is estimated to cost $35 million — $22 million more than what was originally reported by CDM Smith, an Albuquerque consulting and engineering company. The project was estimated to cost $13 million on the high end and would be completed in phases.

The new cost estimates include general construction and administrative costs and other expenses that weren't part of the "raw" vendor quotes. Engineers recommended grinder pumps, a wastewater system that is currently being used in Bosque Farms. The system grinds waste down before it's sent to the treatment plant.

"It didn't include all the parts and pieces," said Kelly Collins of CDM Smith.

Collins said the grinder pumps are in the best interest of the town since they are the least expensive, and officials in Bosque Farms are already familiar with the system.

Collins laid out possible options that included a gravity collection system, grinder pump, vacuum and septic tank effluent pumping system at a recent council meeting.

The Peralta Town Council is yet to formally pick a wastewater system.

Collins said a system other than the grinder pump option would require Bosque Farms to modify its system.

"(The grinder pump system) doesn't require any different kinds of work because it's what they do already," Collins said.

Bosque Farms Mayor Bob Knowlton has said the village could handle similar grinder pumps or a septic tank effluent system that could be hooked up to the municipality's current system.

He said Peralta should have to help pay for upgrades to the current system that would allow the village to increase the system's capacity.

That cost is expected to be figured into the rate structure. Those rates have not yet been determined.

The grinder pumps eventually will require maintenance — something employees in Bosque Farms do on a regular basis. The estimated operational and maintenance costs are estimated at $203,000 per year.

Peralta Town Clerk Julie Pluemer said she was "a little shocked" by the new estimates. She said she and Councilor Joseph Romero plan to meet with the New Mexico Environment Department this week to find funding sources for the design of the project.

She said the council "most likely" will vote on which wastewater system at the town's next public meeting in January.

Pluemer said getting enough funding will be a work in progress. Both Peralta and Bosque Farms could go after funding as part of a regional project.

"Obviously those funds may take years to acquire," Pluemer said.

The project is expected to be completed in four phases, and if the council chooses the grinder pumps, stations would be installed below grade on individual lots at a suitable location.

The town of Peralta could go after a federal grant or take out a loan to get the project done.

Councilor Leon Otero said it could be awhile before the town has enough money to pursue the project. But he said the project remains a priority.

"To be frank, I don't see it flying very soon," Otero said. "We don't have the money. Money just isn't out there right now."

Otero said grinder pumps are "the most feasible," and that the project eventually needs to get done to avoid contamination of ground water.

He said the situation is complicated, and that they "aren't giving up."


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.