Alamogordo, N.M., has received about $2.6 million to use on a desalination project officials hope will offset projected water shortages.
Mayor Susie Galea said the money comes from the New Mexico Finance Authority and will be used toward the $10.5 million "Snake Tank" project.
She said the project includes a temporary desalination outfit that will eventually be moved to a permanent location on the city's west side.
"The desalination plant will cost about $20 million," Galea said. "We are working with congressional leaders toward an EPA grant similiar to what El Paso received before they built their $90 million plant."
She said Alamogordo's water needs are less than those of El Paso, so the city's plans should cost less.
"However, El Paso can charge lower rates because they have such a large quantity of customers to offset the operational costs of their utility program."
The city plans to pipe in brackish water from well fields north of Tularosa and remove the salt from it for municipal use.
The temporary desalination site will be constructed at the city's water treatment plant in La Luz. A city memorandum states the site will employ a trailer-mounted reverse osmosis unit, temporary evaporation pond, 2,000 feet of pipeline and the equipping of three wells.
The city plans to build a permanent site on Lavelle Road, across the street from a federally-operated brackish water research facility.
"A turbo boosting system will be in place to charge the desalinated
water up to the water treatment plant in La Luz prior to distribution," Galea said. "Much of the water we treat is fresh from canyon-captured water from the High Rolls area. After the water is treated at the La Luz site, it's distributed to customers."
Last summer, the Bureau of Land Management granted the city permission to construct up to 10 brackish water wells at Snake Tank Road, install a water transmission line to Alamogordo, build a desalination facility in the city and install a booster pump near that facility to deliver water into the municipal supply.
The city has already begun installing the pipeline that will eventually be used at the permanent desalination site.
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