Monday, September 25, 2023

Water on the Way -- Eventually -- for McIntosh Residents

Torrance County Allocates $1 million for Project


The water woes that have been plaguing more than 150 McIntosh residents is being addressed by Torrance County.


The days of hauling water may not yet be over, said Torrance County Commissioner Samuel Schropp, but steps are finally underway to address the situation that left residents without running water.


The county has allocated nearly $1 million through the federal American Rescue Plan Act to begin the second phase of what has been ongoing and rather circuitous route to eventually deliver water to the small town between Moriarty and Estancia.


“These are Torrance County citizens and nobody in this county should be without running water,” Shropp said.


Under the plan, the county will buy agricultural water permits to help reduce the county’s percentage of water earmarked for farming from 94% to about 92%.


Additionally, new wells will drilled, with the understanding that the dropping water table will necessitate those wells need to be quite deep, he said.


And finally, starting on the infrastructure needed to deliver the water to about 160 residents.


The money comes from a nearly $5 million ARPA allocation the county received, the bulk of which has not been spent as commissioners awaited the outcome of the debt ceiling imbroglio in Congress.


Another $150,000 in ARPA funds also were designated for other water projects within the county, including up to $45,000 to repair and replace two existing wells for the Manzano Mutual Domestic Well Association; $25,000 for the Chilili Land Grant Water Distribution Project and $78,000 for the Torreon Mutual Domestic Water Association.


Under the McIntosh plan, the county will spend about $250,000 to acquire the necessary wet water permits from farmers who are willing to sell them. And the county would then sell the water to the Estancia Moriarty Willard Torrance County Regional Water Association.


This alleviates concerns of land-grant mountain communities that water earmarked for their residents would be diverted, Shropp said.


“This was a great idea,” he said. “No.1, the county will have oversight and the county will have the say so on the water projects and where that water will go. One of the big fears is water being exported out of the basin. This gives the county say over that.”


Another $681,000 is earmarked for Bohannon Huston Inc., an Albuquerque-based engineering firm that will plan and design the distribution system, including a treatment plant at the well site, most likely to be built on the east side of NM 41. The final stage will be construction of the distribution system, which remains unfunded.


This was a significant, bi-partisan step for the commission, Shropp said.


“For the three of us to come this agreement is really something,” he said of fellow commissioners Kevin McCall and Ryan Schwebach. “It’s a good example of how government should work for the people.”


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