Thursday, August 26, 2010

Alamo Tackles Water Issues

By Nathalie Nance

Recently Michael Hawkes and Steve Guerro of the Alamo Navajo School Board, Inc. (ANSBI) and Alamo Water User’s Association managed to secure additional grant money from the state tribal infrastructure funds to be used for maintaining and upgrading the Alamo water system.
ANSBI also contributed with $50,000 and together with saved money, in total $600,000 will be used for starting phase II of the planned repairs. While phase I focused on upgrading the well sites, pumps and electrical components, phase II will involve fixing tanks and the construction of protective fences. In the end of this month bidding will be opened and then awarded in early September for engineering firms. ANSBI executive director Michael Hawkes estimates that phase II will be done within a 60 to 90 day period. Depending on funds, next, phase III, which involves replacing old valves and repair of exposed and damaged water pipelines, will take place.
“We also need to start putting up meters to see if there is any water loss,” said Hawkes.
He thinks that the completion of phase II will permanently solve the problems that especially the so called UFO area has had with lack of water since April. The well site there is constructed for a lesser demand, but as new users have gradually been added to the water supply line water has become scarce. When the windmill supplying stock tanks blew down during windstorms in March and April it caused many households to water their livestock and orchards with well water. Moreover, the tanks have drained when pumps have shut off during lightning storms. All in all, this has often left the households on the end of the line in the UFO area completely without water.
“We had hoped to put in a water tanker from the Navajo Nation to solve the problem temporarily, but they never responded to our request,” Hawkes said.
Alternative well sites have been located in the area, but to drill new wells is not yet financially feasible. The circa twenty affected households currently have water again, but it is still being rationed.
As if this wasn’t enough, another pressing matter is the state of the Alamo waste water system.
“It is totally dysfunctional,” Hawkes said.
The input greatly exceeds the capacity, and a survey shows that 90 percent of the sewage has been lost due to leakage. It has drained into subsurface areas. So far, the waste water system has cost the Alamo 3.5 million dollars and an additional $300,000 has been earmarked to address these issues.
“At least the quality of the well water now is the best we have ever had,” Hawkes said.

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