Moving forward

Christina Calloway: Staff photo City and state leaders dig in Tuesday at the construction site of the city’s new wastewater treatment plant. The $27 million project is expected to be completed in about a year.

By Christina
Calloway
Senior writer
ccalloway@pntonline.com

With gold and chrome-colored shovels in hand, area and state leadership broke ground Tuesday at the construction site for Portales’ new wastewater treatment plant, the largest investment in water infrastructure that the New Mexico Environment Department has made, according to NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn.

Construction of the $27 million project will take about a year to complete, but city officials and Flynn threw on hard hats and bright neon vests to celebrate the project for leading the state in water conservation projects.
About $26.5 million of that price tag will be paid by a loan from the NMED’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund. The remainder of the cost was covered by grants.

“We’re really excited about this, especially our partnership with the environment department,” said Portales Mayor Sharon King.
The project is being led by Public Works Director John DeSha, who said the city’s well field has a life of 13 years at current consumption. With the construction of the plant and conservation efforts put forth by citizens, DeSha says he hopes the city can extend the life of the well field by four more years.

Flynn championed the project for promoting the reuse of water. The plant will treat water and reuse it to water the city’s parks, schools and cemetery.
“I’m excited we’re able to invest in Portales,” Flynn said. “I hope the wastewater treatment plant is a beginning of good things to come to this area.”
Flynn said the project is an example of Governor Susana Martinez and the NMED’s commitment to providing safe, clean water to New Mexico communities.

Christina Calloway: Staff photo City and state leaders dig in Tuesday at the construction site of the city’s new wastewater treatment plant. The $27 million project is expected to be completed in about a year.

Christina Calloway: Staff photo
City and state leaders dig in Tuesday at the construction site of the city’s new wastewater treatment plant. The $27 million project is expected to be completed in about a year.

“We want to be a partner with our communities,” Flynn said, thanking King and DeSha for their leadership on the project. “You’re the ones who have moved this project to fruition.”

Portales City Councilor Keith Thomas raised a few concerns to officials present about wanting to spend additional money now to treat the water so that it can be potable instead of waiting another couple of years until when he thinks the city will need to look into it to conserve water.
Officials agreed that it’s something to discuss and that certainly may be needed down the road.