Storm brings water, street light troubles

November 26, 2013 • Local News

City street workers repaired two water main breaks Monday, likely caused by recent freezing temperatures that blew through the region the past few days.

A break that occurred at North Garden and East Eighth Street and another at West Alameda Street and South Wyoming Avenue were repaired by Monday afternoon, said City Engineer Louis Najar.

The aging water pipes tend to burst when temperatures dip drastically.

“That’s what happens when it gets cold. Water was shooting out of the street,” Najar said. “It takes a good day, or half a day, to fix each one.”

Traffic lights at various intersections throughout the city also lost power, possibly from water leaking into the wiring.

“Our water lines are really old. Moisture gets into the traffic signals,” Najar said. “Water and electricity doesn’t [auth] mix.”

The signal malfunctions didn’t cause much disruption, he said. Electricians were called out at 2 a.m. to make the repairs.

The city may see more water line breaks as the winter storm moves out, however.

“We’ll probably have some more main breaks, when it starts warming up again, which is typical,” Najar said. “I just hope it isn’t a big one.”

The city also stopped work on a water line replacement on North Union Street from West Eighth Street to West College Boulevard.

City crews have completed one block of a project that will replace a water main in the area. But with the inclement weather and the upcoming holiday, a decision was made to stop work.

“For the convenience of the public, we’re going to hold off on the water line project,” Najar said. “We’re just not going to work this week.”

The water line was originally built in the 1930s.

The city has many antiquated water pipes like many surrounding towns. But, unlike the Village of Vaughn, that recently lost all water service when it experienced massive water line breaks, Roswell is equipped with a system that allows the city to reroute water to serve neighborhoods in an emergency, Najar said.

“We have a whole looped system,” he said. “(For instance) when the water is coming from the left, if the line breaks, we can make the water come around from the right. For the most part, we can keep most people going all the time.”

Gov. Susana Martinez announced Monday she has proposed plans to include two new state funds to support local communities dealing with water emergencies in her budget recommendation.

Martinez’s proposal includes a plan to also help struggling communities come up with technical plans for projects and upgrades to prevent emergencies, and seeks to establish a Dry Community Water Emergency Fund and Technical Assistance Planning Fund.

The proposal calls for an initial investment in the fund of $200,000, with an additional $200,000 allowance upon executive order, for the Dry Community Water Emergency Fund that could be declared for use within hours and days following a water supply emergency.

The Technical Assistance Planning Fund would be managed by the New Mexico Environment Department. The proposed $250,000 fund could be used by small communities to design or construct high-quality water system repairs.

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