ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There was yet another sewer line collapse in Albuquerque Tuesday. It occurred at the intersection of 12th St. and Griegos Rd. There was also a collapse last week on Coors Boulevard and 64th St. West, forcing raw sewage into the Rio Grande.
David Morris, public affairs manager for the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, says right now, underfoot, there are at least 80 miles of sewer line in and around Albuquerque that are more than 50 years old and are at the end of their useful life. When they reach this age, they are at a high risk of collapsing due to wear and tear.
“Because those lines are so old, any of them could conceivably collapse at any time, and it just happened coincidentally that these two sections of the line collapsed within a short period of time of one another,” Morris says.
With the amount of sewer and water lines that are considered a high priority to replace, the Water Authority is looking at hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure work. Morris says they have $15 million in the budget for sewer line replacement this year—25 percent more than last year. By 2028, Morris says they’ll have double—$30 million—to fix miles of old line.
A five percent rate hike went into effect July 1st for residents in the Water Authority’s jurisdiction. This is the first rate hike in four years, the majority of which Morris says goes into capital improvement projects like replacing the old lines. Still, Morris says it could take decades to get all of the old sewer lines replaced.
“We do have a plan in place, we are working on it, we just ask for people’s patience while we work through the backlog ’cause it’s gonna take a while,” Morris says. He says these infrastructure issues are a nationwide problem, and Albuquerque is not alone in seeing these problems popping up.
Morris says any new line they put in should last twice as long as the old lines: “We use a new more advanced technology where the sewer line is lined with a material that protects it from that corrosion; and so we expect that these, the new, improved sewer lines, we hope will last 100 years rather than 50.”
The sewer line collapse on 12th Street and Griegos Road is not expected to create major issues beyond traffic delays as the road will be closed for the next week or so. Repairs on the collapse on Coors Boulevard and 64th Street West are expected to take several more weeks.