Red River pri­or­i­tizes in­fras­truc­ture goals

The Taos News - - VALLE VISTA - By Ellen Miller-Goins San­gre de Cristo Chron­i­cle

Red River’s in­fras­truc­ture — its streets, side­walks, wa­ter and sewer sys­tems — are the prover­bial ele­phant in the room, but town of­fi­cials met re­cently to dis­cuss the or­der in which the town should cut the ele­phant down to size.

Along with Tap­pan Ma­honey, chief en­gi­neer from Dennis En­gi­neer­ing Com­pany, and pub­lic works em­ploy­ees, town coun­cilors held a work ses­sion Tues­day (Aug. 14) to plan how it will spend gen­eral obli­ga­tion bond and other funds in re­pair­ing and ex­tend­ing town in­fras­truc­ture.

Rus­sell Church, the town’s en­vi­ron­men­tal com­pli­ance and grant ad­min­is­tra­tor, told the coun­cil pre­lim­i­nary work was about done on Phase 1, the wa­ter tank project at the Wild Oaks sub­di­vi­sion (off High­way 38 headed up Bob­cat Pass), “The tank could come in by next week or the fol­low­ing week. We had the fund­ing to do this, so it’s get­ting done.”

Ac­cord­ing to town bid doc­u­ments, work in­cludes “a new 200,000-gal­lon welded steel wa­ter stor­age tank, a new triplex booster pump sta­tion, new dis­tri­bu­tion and trans­mis­sion wa­ter lines, di­rec­tional bore, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of a 1.25 mil­lion-gal­lon welded steel stor­age tank and a 17,500-gal­lon welded steel stor­age tank, in­stal­la­tion of new me­ter cans and pres­sure re­duc­ing valves and other mi­nor items.”

Church noted Phase 2 will run a 6-inch wa­ter line and add three new hy­drants up Bit­ter Creek and re­place wa­ter lines go­ing east to Young’s Ranch sub­di­vi­sion with the goal of cre­at­ing a loop “that will help move some wa­ter around.”

Wa­ter lines from Ten­der­foot to Hill­crest were orig­i­nally part of Phase 3. Pub­lic Works em­ployee Jeff Brun­son noted, “Our wa­ter loss right now is out­ra­geous.…”

After dis­cussing the prob­lem, how­ever, the mayor and coun­cil de­cided to move that phase to a higher pri­or­ity and be­gin search­ing for fund­ing now.

With­out funds, no move­ment

Mayor Linda Cal­houn said CDBG (Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Block Grant) funds could pos­si­bly be used “to im­ple­ment re­pairs by Spring 2020. That sounds like a long way out, but un­til we do de­sign, we can’t do con­struc­tion and un­til we get funds, we can­not do de­sign.”

Church added, “Ten­der­foot also needs a loop. That’s the prob­lem with the west end of town. When we have a wa­ter leak, we have to shut that end of town down.

Phase 4 of the in­fras­truc­ture plan in­volves re­plac­ing wa­ter lines through­out Red River and Phase 5 is im­prov­ing lines from the wa­ter tank up Pioneer Road to Main Street.

Town of­fi­cials dis­cussed hir­ing a com­pany to map where wa­ter line leaks are now. (This is typ­i­cally done us­ing acous­tic data — lis­ten­ing for and record­ing vi­bra­tions dur­ing quiet us­age hours.) Ad­di­tion­ally, pub­lic works em­ploy­ees will also map prob­lem ar­eas.

Church pointed out that dur­ing peak de­mand is when wa­ter tank prob­lems oc­cur. “There’s where we need a con­trol sys­tem for our pumps,” He said. “That may be part of our wa­ter loss that we don’t know is hap­pen­ing. The tank may be over­flow­ing and we don’t know about it.”

Brun­son asked, “In­stead of fix­ing the leak, why don’t we go in and re­place the en­tire line?”

Cal­houn replied, “We can’t be­cause of fund­ing.… So, Tap­pan, do you have any words of wis­dom to give us?

Ma­honey replied, “You need plan­ning doc­u­ments and a thor­ough re­port be­fore you can ap­ply for fund­ing. You can’t get dis­cour­aged. I know it’s frus­trat­ing. Get­ting it done takes 2 to 2 ½ years for any pro­gram you work with.”

The town will ap­ply for $1.7 mil­lion through the state Wa­ter Trust Board, which rec­om­mends to the Leg­is­la­ture projects to be funded through the Wa­ter Project Fund.

Church said the odds are not in the town’s fa­vor: “Red River is ranked ‘dis­ad­van­taged’ while other com­mu­ni­ties are ‘se­verely dis­ad­van­taged.’”

To which Cal­houn replied, “How do we get ranked ‘se­verely dis­ad­van­taged?’”

The prob­lem with wa­ter loss

Leak­ing wa­ter lines re­sult in wa­ter “loss” for the town but so do stor­age tank over­flows. Town of­fi­cials dis­cussed whether a su­per­vi­sory con­trol and data ac­qui­si­tion sys­tem, a com­puter sys­tem used for mon­i­tor­ing and au­to­ma­tion, would help.

Town sewer lines also leak, Church said, sug­gest­ing the town use block grant funds for those re­pairs.

Ma­honey said, “At some point, all the lines that have to be re­placed would have to be “cam­era-ed.”

Is­sac Cis­neros, pub­lic works di­rec­tor, said, “You have to block the line to cam­era be­cause the equip­ment won’t work un­der­wa­ter.I would hate for Lifts West and the Con­fer­ence Cen­ter to be back­ing up. I would like to do it when (Red River is) an ac­tual ghost town…. after Ok­to­ber­fest.

Mayor Cal­houn said, “The other thing is, we need to [pave] High Street, but we can’t [pave] High Street un­til we do the in­fras­truc­ture un­der High Street. This is a tough one, guys.”

The town has al­ready re­ceived a $3.96 mil­lion loan/ grant pack­age to up­grade and mod­ern­ize its waste­water treat­ment fa­cil­ity.

Main Street side­walk project

The town is look­ing into the fed­eral Trans­porta­tion Al­ter­na­tives Pro­gram fund­ing for its Main Street side­walk project, Church said. “We’ve met with DOT (De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion) of­fi­cials. This is a project that the DOT sup­ports. They’ve given us the sur­vey al­ready. They were go­ing to do the project and re­place the side­walks with gray con­crete. The next step for us is do­ing the de­sign work and re­quest the fund­ing.”

Cal­houn asked, “How much money are we ask­ing for?”

“I don’t know be­cause we have to do the de­sign,” Church replied.

Ma­honey pre­dicted the project would cost “close to a mil­lion” to which Church added, “If we want it, we’ve got it.”

Cal­houn asked, “Can we do new street­lights with the project? I’d love to get new street­lights. I think we need to ap­ply for the whole she­bang if it’s fed­eral money.”

File photo

Red River is pri­or­i­tiz­ing town projects.

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