Ski Valley water solutions a ways off
GEOFFREY PLANT/Taos News
Tyler Nunn, vice president and senior project manager with Bradbury Stamm Construction, right, gestures to a new water valve paired with a master water meter. Nunn spoke during a Village of Taos Ski Valley water system update hosted by Taos Ski Valley, Inc. last Saturday (July 29) in the resort's Lake Fork Room.
Taos Ski Valley Inc. has installed seven master water meters to help the Village of Taos Ski Valley solve its water crisis, but the project won't address the source of the leaks wreaking havoc on the municipal water system.
The scope of the village's infrastructure woes was reflected in village Mayor Pro-tem Tom Wittman's announcement to a dozen or so people who attended an information meeting hosted by the ski resort on Saturday (July 29): The village is looking to the New Mexico Water Trust Board "for somewhere around $13 million to $13.5 million dollars" to fund system-wide upgrades.
"There's a vision out there that everything in our village could be replaced, eventually, in the next few years," Wittman said.
A not-insignificant portion of the ski valley's municipal water system infrastructure was constructed with "Schedule 40 PVC pipe" that appears to have been installed either improperly or with inadequate bedding, said Anthony Martinez, public works director for the village.
The PVC pipe has "a very thin wall [and is] very susceptible to movement," Martinez said. Because the system is gravity-fed at a steep incline, high water pressure is a factor as well.
Peter Talty, vice president of Taos Ski Valley, Inc. suggested the PVC pipe material could serve another purpose. "Maybe we would use that as conduit to run a wire through; I mean, the thought that that is used for water under pressure is unimaginable."
The village saw several catastrophic water failures over the past year. With the aid of the newly-deployed water meters, it will at least be able to more accurately detect where leaks are originating.
"We've gotten through to two extraordinary events relative to a system-wide failure in December and in March, and then also a localized failure that resulted in the Kachina-area [failure] in mid April," Talty said. "All of these have reasons behind them, and I think there's also the challenges associated with anything of that nature occurring in the middle of the winter, which is obviously never a good thing."
To mitigate the infrastructure failures, the master water meters — along with new shutoff valves — effectively divide the village into zones by which the village will soon be able to isolate leaks and avoid system-wide failures.
"The meters are installed," Tyler Nunn, vice president and senior project manager with Bradbury Stamm Construction, told the Taos News. "The last component, which we'll finish up this month, is the electronic portion," which will allow for remote monitoring of the system.
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