Town of Peralta is at 'a standstill' about tying into BF wastewater system

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The Peralta town clerk said the municipality is at "a standstill" on the wastewater project slated to eventually tie into the current system in Bosque Farms.

Peralta Town Clerk Julie Pluemer said the town wants to move forward with the first phase of the project, which would include designing a treatment system that would send sludge north to the village of Bosque Farms.

But without a complete preliminary engineering report, Pluemer said their hands are tied. The report will include a rate study, which will give residents and officials monthly cost figures. The charge is expected to be on a "per gallon used" basis.

At Peralta's regular meeting on Feb. 13, a representative from CDM Smith, an Albuquerque consulting and engineering firm, recommended the two municipalities meet with them to get on the same page. No such meeting has been scheduled.

"We are at a point where we can't move forward," Pluemer said.

The system, which would be built in phases, would allow residents to have their wastewater treated via a water treatment system that would hook into the grinder pump system in Bosque Farms.

The Peralta Town Council is yet to formally pick a wastewater system, although Pluemer and other members of the council said a grinder pump system would make the most sense.

Kelly Collins and Robert Fowlie, of CDM Smith, told the council that town officials should hire an attorney to help spell out the details of an eventual contract with the town and the village of Bosque Farms.

But town officials say a rate study must be completed by the firm before a contract can be drafted.

Councilor Joseph Romero said the dealings with CDM Smith has been "rough" so far.

Romero said his impression was that the firm would play a larger role in putting a foundation in place to start the first phase of the project.

"They aren't (talking to Bosque Farms)," Romero said. "We are going to have to do it. … That's the biggest thing holding us back. We have to get a contract."

In December, councilors learned the project could cost $22 million more than what was originally reported by CDM Smith after the company released a draft of the engineering report.

The cost estimates include general construction and administrative costs and other expenses that weren't part of the "raw" vendor quotes.

Engineers recommended grinder pumps. The system grinds waste down before it's sent to the treatment plant, they said.

The grinder pumps eventually will require maintenance — a duty officials at the town of Peralta are expected to take on. The estimated operational and maintenance costs are estimated at $203,000 per year.

But Pluemer said the project is "a long way" from being complete. In addition to a incomplete preliminary engineering report, the town needs an environmental document done before any construction can start.

Pluemer said the next step is to talk with officials at Bosque Farms.

"We'll have to discuss it with Bosque Farms to see where we go from here."

For now, residents can see if their well water is contaminated by participating in a water study hosted by the New Mexico Environment Department.

Residents can bring samples to the town hall on Thursday, March 14. For more information, call 869-2050.


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