State funds to seal up water waste problem

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Rio Rancho is getting more than $1 million from the state to fix a big time problem; while city officials say its still not nearly enough to fix all of the aging water lines it is a start.

Governor Susana Martinez made a stop in Rio Rancho Monday to make a huge announcement.

“The city will receive $1.4 million in funding,” Martinez said.

City officials said it is money the city desperately needs to fix an old problem.

A city spokesperson said the city has 14,000 aging water lines, each about 20 to 25-years-old, and they’re prone to leak.

Last year, a Rio Rancho neighborhood routinely saw water bubbling up from the pipes below the surface and streaming down streets.

City Councilor Cheryl Everett said this is bad news for a state that’s suffering from drought.

“Wasting water, having it go back underground, which means it doesn’t stay in our system,” Everett said.

Everett said stopping the problem has become city leaders’ top priority.

In the press conference, the governor said Rio Rancho estimates it’s lost more than 14.5 million gallons of water because of waterline leaks and even breaks.

A city spokesperson said in a one year span crews worked on more than 800 service leaks. The city blames the developer for using poly-butylene water lines, that become brittle with age and crack.

The capitol outlay funds awarded Monday are expected to replace between 500 to 600 lines. That still leaves more than 13,000.

City officials said they know they’ve got a long road ahead but if they don’t slowly fix the problem now it may only get worse for residents.

“Well their water rates will keep going up – that’s about as big of an inconvenience as you can have presumably we can have water restrictions,” Everett said.

A city spokesperson said there is no permanent long term solution at this time. City officials said they only have two options right now.

The first option, was a water rate increase, approved last year, that’s expected to generate about five million dollars for repairs in five years.

City lawmakers will also continue to ask the state for help.

This is the second year that state funding has been used to help fix Rio Rancho’s water-line problem.

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