RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) - The state is giving Rio Rancho $1 million toward replacing thousands of leaking water lines that have become a nightmare for the city, but that's just a drop in the bucket
People who live there will also have to help cover the rest of the cost, which means a steep rate increase.
Rio Rancho residents will see about a 50 percent hike in their water bills over the next five years to help pay for the new pipes.
Here's the problem: Rio Rancho needs to replace 15,000 polybutylene water lines because the plastic-resin material becomes brittle and cracks with age.
It's so bad the city on average deals with about 100 water line breaks a month during the summer.
The Legislature approved the million dollars to help start replacing the bad pipes this winter. But the city says $20 million would speed up the work and save money.
"If we were to put out 15 crews, we could do it one year, and it would be a little over $20 million," City Councilor Chuck Wilkins told KRQE News 13. "Doing one crew a year like we're doing right now, it's actually going to cost about $40 million, and it will take until about 2030."
Residents will see an 8.8 percent water rate increase every year for the next five years. If the state pitches in more money, their rates would go down.
The rate increases also covers city debt and a federal mandate to treat arsenic in the water.
The city says it loses about 500 million gallons of water a year through leaky pipes.
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