ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new, temporary bypass pumping system seeks to help solve a major sewage problem on Albuquerque’s westside, near 64th and Coors. The bypass is now “successfully diverting flows” around the collapsed sewer pipe that broke Sunday night.

The update comes from the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority on day three of its response to the surprise sewer collapse. The problem lead to raw sewage and waste water back ups in homes and businesses around the area of Coors and I-40.

Even with the bypass, ABCWUA engineers are still asking for westside residents to limit water use of lesser important water operations for the rest of the week. That means ceasing the use of washing machines and dishwashers for a few days.

While the new bypass pump is operational, the WUA says there’s a chance that there’s a lot of sewage that needs to make it downstream to the new bypass. Less water use on the westside over the coming days will help allow any sewage build up to successfully trickle down stream. David Morris with the WUA explains, “If they can just hold off on doing those big laundry loads and doing their dishes for a couple more days.” 

The WUA says there’s still a lot of work to do on the project. Construction of a permanent bypass pump system will continue through the end of the week. Meanwhile, crews still have to tackle replacement of the damaged, collapsed pipeline.

Meanwhile, cleanup continues on the streets and sidewalks around the break, where sewage backed up out of the system. The WUA says “overflows of sewage intro the Rio Grande via the storm drain system have ceased.” The Water Authority is also said to be working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state’s Environment Department to meet cleaning requirements following the initial sewage spill.

People are still cautioned to avoid recreational activity in the river south of i-40 because of sewage contamination. “I give it a few days, we’re still in the process of figuring out, you know, how much contamination, entered the river. Like I said, we’re doing some sampling,” Morris said.

The pipe that broken was 48-inches in diameter. It was installed in 1963. The WUA says other sections of the same line are “undergoing rehab,” but the affected area was not under construction when it collapsed.