Planning has started for the possibility of a gravity-operated sewer line along Loma Larga’s ditch bank that might eventually send sewage from west side homes to Albuquerque’s sewer and on to the wastewater treatment plant in the South Valley. An agreement with the City of Albuquerque would be needed. A contract to design such a sewer has not been developed, and the Village Council has yet to endorse the proposal. But at council meetings over the past six months, Public Works Director Mike Chavez has indicated, without details, that preliminary planning has gone  into the idea.

When Corrales Comment urged Chavez to more fully explain what he has in mind, he replied with the following description. “The Village of Corrales will start looking at the feasibility of a gravity sewer system. The new sewer would run from the Old Church on Old Church Road south to La Entrada, then west to Loma Larga.

“From the intersection of Loma Larga and La Entrada, it would run south along the Corrales Main Canal to the City of Albuquerque.”

Chavez said as currently envisioned, a 12-inch sewer line would receive wastewater from homes along roads that run west from Loma Larga. “We would also look at running a sewer line from Todos los Santos and Loma Larga south along Loma Larga to La Entrada to extend our service area.

“We have discussed the possibility of running even farther north, under the Harvey Jones Channel to service the Far Northwest Sector.”

He said the first step will be to produce a technical memo with which a request for proposals (RFP) would be generated.

The idea has advanced over the past three years as Village officials have grown ever more disappointed with results from the three-inch diameter pressurized sewer line along Corrales Road meant to serve the business district. Even so, the Village has moved ahead with extending that earlier system from Corrales Road to the Old Church and Casa San Ysidro Museum. Under the new concept, the small-diameter sewer  line to the Old Church would keep going south along Old Church Road to its intersection with La Entrada and then head west to Loma Larga.

Chavez said the proposed sewer line from the Old Church to La Entrada would operate by gravity, but would then be pumped westward to the Main Canal ditch bank where it would tie in to the new 10-inch line.

Increasingly, Village officials found that attractive as a bypass for the Corrales Road line at times when the earlier installed line is blocked or otherwise not functioning.

Chavez clarified that option as follows. “The sewer line along Old Church Road would connect to the existing STEP system [“septic tank effluent pressurized,” the one along the east side of Corrales Road] so we would be able to send effluent into the new sewer if need be. This would act as a bypass, and not take the place of the existing STEP system.”

Corrales’ new mayor, Jim Fahey, is thought to be supportive of such a project. As a member of the Village Council 14 years ago, he reluctantly went along with the proposal to install the STEP system we now have.

On then-Mayor Phil Gasteyer’s tie-break vote May 13, 2008, the Village Council decided to start a municipal sewer system that sent wastewater from Corrales’ business district to the South Valley sewage treatment plant. The motion to approve the contract to design it was made by then-Councillor Fahey. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXVII No.7 May 24, 2008 “Corrales Set To Send Sewage from Business District to Albuquerque.”)

Back then, the design for the liquids-only sewer line was supposed to have capacity to collect wastewater from neighborhoods east and west of Corrales. Chief among those areas were the Priestly-Coroval neighborhoods (east of the recreation center) which had been subdivided into half-acre and even quarter-acre home sites long before Corrales incorporated as a municipality and adopted laws requiring at least one-acre per dwelling.

But the planned expansion of sewer service to that high-density area has been delayed repeatedly, although Chavez said April 27 that an engineering design to accomplish it is nearly complete. “Design for a STEP system expansion to the Priestly-Coroval area is almost complete.

“When complete, we will seek funding to install the STEP system to said area. Design is for a wastewater main line only; services can be connected as they are requested.”

Other subdivisions at less than one acre include Mockingbird Lane on the east side of Corrales Road and Mountain Shadows Road west of Corrales Road. They are among more than a dozen higher density neighborhoods which eventually are supposed to be served with future wastewater main lines.

He said engineering for the Priestly-Coroval area is about 95 percent complete; once it is finished and funds are found, perhaps from the federal American Rescue Act fund, construction on the sewer main to that area might begin within a year, he estimated.

More than 30 years ago, the Village contracted with its Village Engineer, Larry Vigil,  for a study and recommendations whether it should try to build a  sewer system for the entire community or skirt the ground water pollution problem by installing a municipal water system.

Vigil recommended a water system, rather than a sewer system, because he estimated the latter would cost around $70 million.

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