ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Water Authority is asking everyone on Albuquerque’s west side to cut down on water use as crews work on a collapsed sewer line near 64th street west of Coors Boulevard. The line broke Sunday night, causing backups into homes and businesses.

The water authority says the pipe was old, dating back to 1963, and had been identified as a “high priority for replacement.” Everything that goes down a drain on the west side ends up at this sewer system which then goes to the treatment plant.

“It’s a 48-inch sewer main that basically serves most of the west side of Albuquerque. All of the sewage flow basically goes to this point before going down to the sewage treatment plant,” said David Morris, Water Authority Public Affairs.

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The water authority says sewage is now pouring into the storm drains and the river south of the I-40 bridge. They’re warning people to stay out of the river south of I-40 while various government agencies try to figure out how to deal with the contamination.

Jerry Lovato is the Executive Engineer for the Albuquerque Metropolitan  Arroyo and Flood Control Authority. (AMAFCA) He shares, “If you’re going into the Rio Grande up in Alameda, you’re just going to be just fine. But as that water moves downstream, there’s this plug of water.” 

“We’re setting up a system of bypass pumps and pipes to go around the break, but that takes time, and in the meantime, the sewage continues to back up,” said Morris.

They hope the temporary system will handle normal sewage flows by the end of the day. The full repair could take weeks.

Lovato says this accident shouldn’t cause long lasting effects but it will take mother nature time to recover from the sewage contamination. “You’re gonna get smells and some of those things that you’re not used to. But over time, you know, E Coli will die out on its own naturally,” he said.

The Water Authority says the sewage backups have damaged a hotel, a restaurant, and one home. There’s no estimate yet on the cost of the repairs.