To'hajiilee pipeline delayed by funding issues - Albuquerque Journal

To’hajiilee pipeline delayed by funding issues

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

A project to pipe water from Albuquerque to the Navajo community of To’hajiilee is on hold again, as partners work out details of a state funding package.

A corroded pipe and sample of To’hajiilee’s poor-quality water are pictured in July 2020. A $8 million pipeline construction project to convey water from Albuquerque to the Navajo Nation community is on hold again. (Anthony Jackson/Albuquerque Journal)

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority trucked emergency water Tuesday to the community about 30 miles west of the city.

A deteriorating pipe segment for the village’s one functioning water well had caused a temporary water service disruption, said George Mihalik, a senior project engineer with Souder, Miller & Associates, the company working on the conveyance project.

“The water is so corrosive that it eats up all the metal,” Mihalik said.

ABCWUA has delivered tankers to To’hajiilee at least a dozen times in the past 18 months because of system failures.

“They have six wells that we’ve studied, and only one is kind of usable,” Mihalik said. “Wells just keep failing, and drilling more wells is just not a long-term solution. I think everyone’s aware that the water’s very poor-quality as well.”

Construction on a 7.5-mile transmission line from water authority tanks to To’hajiilee will cost $8 million.

The utility’s application to the state Water Trust Board sought $4.96 million for project construction.

The state board awarded about $7.7 million total, including a $4.6 million grant and $3 million loan.

But the loan component is “problematic,” water authority spokesman David Morris said.

“It wouldn’t be the water authority repaying the loan, it would be To’hajiilee,” Morris said. “The community would not be well-positioned to repay that because they’ll have to spread that out over the households in the community.”

Jamie Henio, the Navajo Nation Council delegate who represents the 2,000 residents, said they “desperately need a long-term reliable water supply.”

“Without this important water pipeline project, To’hajiilee’s existing water wells will continue to fail after years of band-aid fixes,” Henio said in a statement.

The Navajo Nation government has spent about $4 million on the project.

Morris said the money was directed to “easements and some initial engineering and planning work.”

“And of course their agreement with WALH required a significant investment,” he said.

In November, Western Albuquerque Land Holdings, the Navajo Nation and water authority reached an agreement for a property easement to build the pipeline.

Parties did not disclose terms of the deal, which followed two years of negotiations.

The water authority joined the Navajo Department of Water Resources and the To’hajiilee Chapter in sending a letter to the New Mexico Finance Authority in late May asking for a reconfiguration of the funding award.

Agencies requested that the NMFA consider “principal forgiveness of the loan component based on the Navajo Nation’s matching funds” of $4 million.

The water authority estimates that pipeline construction, which Morris said is “shovel ready,” will take four to six months once funding issues are resolved.

Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.


Home » Business » Health & Safety » To’hajiilee pipeline delayed by funding issues

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Donald Trump indicted; expected to surrender next week
ABQnews Seeker
NEW YORK (AP) -- Donald Trump ... NEW YORK (AP) -- Donald Trump has been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, a historic reckoning after years of investigations into his personal, ...
A stadium at Balloon Fiesta Park? City officials explain ...
ABQnews Seeker
A viable location within Balloon Fiesta ... A viable location within Balloon Fiesta Park has been identified as a possible site to construct a privately-funded soccer stadium for New Mexico United, ...
$4 million proposed for a new Unser Museum
ABQnews Seeker
Museum allocations are a point of ... Museum allocations are a point of contention as Albuquerque leaders wrangle over how to spend $200M in expected infrastructure money
Speed-up rules impacting college baseball, too: Here's how the ...
ABQnews Seeker
Speedier baseball games have arrived at ... Speedier baseball games have arrived at college diamonds in 2023. They're a hit with the University of New Mexico Lobos. The pitch clock era ...
If Albuquerque voters approve $200 million in bonds this ...
ABQnews Seeker
The Albuquerque City Council is expected ... The Albuquerque City Council is expected to vote Monday on programming for $200 million of general obligation bonds going on this fall's ballot.
State Investment Council pumps $97.5M into two 'frontier-tech' funds
ABQnews Seeker
Playground, Lux ventures to invest in ... Playground, Lux ventures to invest in high-tech startups in NM
The COVID-related era of continuous Medicaid coverage ends Friday. ...
ABQnews Seeker
Continuous enrollment - started at the ... Continuous enrollment - started at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic - automatically renewed coverage for people in the Medicaid program. New Mexico is ...
A man who stabbed a would-be robber to death ...
ABQnews Seeker
Judge acknowledges there were 'certain aspects ... Judge acknowledges there were 'certain aspects of self-defense' in the case.
ABB plans new $40M factory in ABQ
ABQnews Seeker
Electrification company will expand its current ... Electrification company will expand its current facility, add 55 jobs