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Raton Water Works projects will require grant funds

RATON — Aging infrastructure and regulations are the driving force for Raton Water Works projects in the coming years, and as General Manager Dan Campbell noted, many of the projects are expensive, long term projects. Work on the dam at Lake Maloya will be one of the biggest and most expensive projects the water department will have to undertake in the next few years. The work will begin with inspection of the water conduits that run through the dam and bring water to the community. This project will require divers and even dewatering of the conduit in order to inspect them via a video camera. This will determine the extent of deterioration in the piping that has occurred over the years. Once that is done a scope of work can be engineered. The next project at the lake will include enlarging the emergency spillway on the east side of the dam. As Campbell said in a recent interview, this too is a result of new regulations that have come from New Mexico regulators. Funding this very expensive project will require help from both the federal and state governments and could cost several million dollars. Down the pipe at the Water Filter Plant, projects will once again be driven by an aging infrastructure and regulations. The

building was built in 1947 and is in need of upgrades both mechanical and safety related. The projects there will include reworking the chemical handling facilities as well as improving the safety environment. Work on the filtration system and monitoring of water quality will also be addressed in this segment of the project. Regulations from the state concerning waste water discharge will require the department to make some upgrades and improvements at the waste water treatment plant in south Raton. Other projects associated with the water system include replacing pipelines under streets as the streets are repaved or replaced. Campbell said the First Street project was just like that, and replaced piping that was installed nearly 100 years ago. Campbell will be working with state regulators and others to find funding for these projects. He admits there is no way local rate payers can come close to paying for these projects, especially with so many on fixed incomes. Raton, like many rural communities, are suffering from population loss, and those lost rates affect the bottom line for local utilities. Campbell told KRTN in a recent interview, his department is maintaining staff at a minimum level now to maintain safety and service. None of the projects planned in the future will require additional man power, but as Campbell noted, they are always looking for good help to replace staff who retire or leave their position. The current staff has been loyal and put in many good years of service with the department, Campbell said.