ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — That water running west on Central Avenue from the University of New Mexico for the last week is not coming from a water line break.
Water utility officials said Monday that it is being drained from two abandoned water lines in preparation for the city’s Albuquerque Rapid Transit project.
“We don’t want anything with water in it to be under the new ART infrastructure. We don’t want any leaks,” said David Morris, public affairs manager for the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority.
He said the two lines – one 30 inches in diameter, the other 16 inches – have not been used for many years.
“About six days ago we tapped into two abandoned lines crossing Central Avenue into UNM, just east of University Boulevard, in order to drain them so they can be capped, filled with grout and fully decommissioned ahead of the ART project,” Morris said.
The drained water is running into a storm drain and then into the Rio Grande.
Morris said the nearest storm drain, at the northeast corner of Central and University, is plugged, so the water is running across University Boulevard to the next drain a few hundred feet west on Central.
“We’re using small taps, 3/4 inches, and it’s taking longer than expected to drain the lines,” Morris said. “We’re going to install 4-inch taps on Thursday in hopes of completing the draining operation by Friday.”
Morris said the utility is not metering the water, so he cannot say how many gallons are flowing from the abandoned lines.
According to a franchise agreement between the utility and the city, the utility is required to modify its water lines and drains to accommodate city projects.