U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich have announced nearly $17 million in federal funding to improve three rural water systems in New Mexico. The funding comes in the form of nearly $15 million in grants and $2 million in low cost loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program. The projects will benefit three New Mexico communities: the Cottonwood Rural Water Association in Eddy County, the Lower Rio Grande Public Water Works Authority in Doña Ana County, and the city of Truth or Consequences.
“These rural water investments are essential to the health, well-being, and development of communities in Sierra, Eddy, and Doña Ana counties,” Udall said. “These projects not only provide clean water to rural families, but also help keep rates down and create jobs in New Mexico. I am proud to fight for rural development funding as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and I’ll continue to work to ensure the federal government invests in clean water systems for rural New Mexico.”
“These federal investments will improve southern New Mexico’s rural water and wastewater systems, particularly in Eddy, Sierra, and Doña Ana Counties,” Heinrich said. “Access to clean drinking water and safe sewer systems are essential to public health and wellness and help boost economic development. These funds are also critical to sustaining New Mexico’s basic infrastructure.”
The city of Truth or Consequences will receive $4,492,000 in rural development funds to improve the city’s aging wastewater treatment plant. The proposed improvements covered by this funding include electrical upgrades to improve the overall operation of the plant, a disinfection system upgrade to utilize ultra violet technology, a new sludge handling system to replace the existing vacuum drying bed system, aerators for the oxidation pond, as well as general site condition improvements and safety upgrades. The funding consists of $910,000 in low cost loans and $3,582,000 in grants.
The Cottonwood Rural Water Association in Eddy County will receive $4,274,100 in rural development funds to remove and replace a water tank, replace existing water lines and add new lines to loop dead end lines. The proposed improvements covered by this funding will allow for increased systemic operability of the distribution system and will allow for future growth, with 26 new users connected to the system as a result of the project. The funding consists of $649,000 in low cost loans and $3,625,100 in grants.
The Lower Rio Grande Public Water Works Authority in Doña Ana County will receive $8,027,800 in rural development funds to construct a gravity and pressurized sewer system to address the most immediate needs of the service area. This project will extend sewer service to underserved areas in Mesquite and to the unserved unincorporated community of Brazito. As part of the project, 490 new users will be connected to the system. Currently, the majority of those potential new users have conventional on-site septic and leach-field systems, which are potential sources of groundwater contamination. The funding consists of $357,000 in low cost loans and $7,670,800 in grants.
From 2009 to 2013, the USDA invested more than $166 million to support efficient water supply, treatment and storage facilities, and wastewater treatment systems in New Mexico. That investment has improved the health of thousands of rural New Mexicans who now have access to clean water and reliable sanitation. The USDA’s Rural Development funding was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, which Udall and Heinrich both championed in the Senate.