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The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority will use about $2.68 million from the New Mexico Environment Department to help fund three wastewater reuse projects.
The state Legislature appropriated the money to NMED this year as capital outlay funds, and the utility will match each of the NMED appropriations.
“Municipalities 50 years ago couldn’t get rid of wastewater fast enough,” chief operating officer John Stomp told the Journal. “It was a thing nobody wanted to deal with, but now it’s the future of water supply in the West. There are not a lot of new resources around, so you use the resources you have.”
A $175 million wastewater treatment plant just north of the Bosque School will supply nonpotable irrigation water to parks, golf courses and schools on Albuquerque’s West Side.
The NMED grant of $597,700 will fund conceptual designs and a permit process with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In the winter, the plant will discharge treated wastewater into the Rio Grande at Montaño and area arroyos.
The site will include a classroom where Bosque students can do experiments and learn how the utility treats wastewater.
The $150 million Tijeras reuse project will sit on 24 acres at Kirtland Air Force Base.
The utility will use the site to treat wastewater for reuse as a drinking water supply.
Advanced treatment will likely require both a wastewater plant and a drinking water plant, Stomp said. Water would infiltrate into the Tijeras Arroyo downstream of Kirtland Air Force Base, then the utility would pump that water to use as a drinking water supply. A $690,000 NMED grant will help with planning and permitting.
The utility will work with state regulators to develop standards for using treated wastewater as potable water. California and Texas have potable reuse standards, but New Mexico does not.
“If we followed California, we’d likely use reverse osmosis or ozonation like we use at our water plant now for treatment,” Stomp said.
A $1.39 million NMED grant will help fund the designs for a reclamation plant to supply irrigation water to the 83-acre Winrock site and nearby parks.
“It will be a pretty small plant initially, but it’s an important plant, because there’s really no (water) reuse right in the center of Uptown,” Stomp said. “It shows the sustainable aspects of development, but also of reuse.”
Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.