Los Padillas water project begins

Los Padillas residents and elected officials marked the start of a $1.9 million project to provide municipal water to the South Valley neighborhood at an event Wednesday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Black water came out of Jerry McCann’s tap until he drilled a deep well six months ago at his South Valley home in the Los Padillas neighborhood.

McCann, 69, said he plans to hook into the municipal water system within two months when a new line is completed to his neighborhood. Even with his new well, McCann’s water quality is poor, he said.

Workers broke ground this week on a $1.9 million project to install water lines in Los Padillas, bringing municipal water to an area where homeowners now rely on private wells.

“This is a blessing for us getting hooked up now,” McCann said of the project, which will allow him to use treated water in about two months. Water quality has worsened for years for Los Padillas residents, he said.

“I wouldn’t even put it on my flowers,” he said of the area’s well water. McCann made the comments at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday at Isleta and Marcelino SW to mark the start of construction.

The work now underway is part of a phased project intended to one day deliver clean, safe water to the estimated 3,000 residents of Los Padillas in far southwest Albuquerque.

Bernalillo County is providing $1.65 million to the project and the water utility is contributing labor and $250,000 to complete phase 1, with an estimated completion by next summer.

Workers will install 12,500 feet of pipe to residents east of Isleta SW, just north of Interstate 25. Future work to extend lines to residents west of Isleta will be scheduled as funds are available. The total cost of the project is estimated at $4 million to $5 million.

Steven Michael Quezada, the Bernalillo County commissioner who represents the community, said he made the Los Padillas water system a priority shortly after he was elected to the commission in 2016 and observed the poor quality of the water there.

Quezada and others said they will seek additional funding from state and federal sources.

“We know there are other big problems, but water is just a necessity,” Quezada said at the groundbreaking event. “With your taxes, you should be getting services that everyone else gets.”