Water Utility Authority: Infrastructure needs an overhaul

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s what we rely on for water and getting rid of our waste, but the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority says the pipes and machines used to do that are aging, quickly. That’s why they are proposing raising rates for water customers.

“In order to maintain the system in working order we need to be investing about $76-million a year for maintenance and replacement for things that are wearing out,” said David Morris, Spokesperson for the Water Utility Authority.

The Water Authority says the last hike in the water bill happened about two years ago. Currently, the water utility spends $61-million a year on fixing the infrastructure and they say that needs to jump to $76-million in the next decade. Roughly, that means close to a $3 hike in your monthly bill. The Water Authority will be meeting on this issue next in May and a vote is expected by the beginning of July. If it passes, the price hike could be seen beginning in August.

“But we’re going to try to phase it in over several years so it doesn’t all happen at once,” said Morris. “And we’re going to try not to do it every year, we’re going to try to do every other year so that it’s a gradual increase.”

According to the Water Authority, even with the hike, people around Albuquerque would still be paying less than in most cities in the southwestern United States.

The infrastructure includes sewer and water lines along with water and waste treatment facilities. As of 2017, the Water Authority said Albuquerque gets one third of its water from the aquifer and the other two thirds from the river. That leaves a lot of water pumping station in need of an upgrade.

“A lot of them are getting old and reaching the end of their useful life,” said Morris. “and we’re going to have to look at starting to replace some of those as they age out of service.”

Some upgrades are already taking place with Albuquerque’s sewage treatment plant undergoing a $250-million overhaul. The original facility was built in 1960.

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