Albuquerque Water Authority addresses miles of aging infrastructure

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque is experiencing its second infrastructure emergency in a matter of weeks. Another sewer line broke Tuesday near 12th Street and Griegos in northwest Albuquerque, after one broke near 64th Street and Coors on the Westside earlier in July.

Water Authority leaders say 80 miles of sewer pipes are in poor condition throughout the city, out of 3,000 miles of sewer pipes in Albuquerque.

“It is a lot in terms of the cost to actually replace that pipe. So it’s not something that could be done overnight, we have to do it as the funds become available,” said David Morris, public affairs manager for the Water Authority.

He says it costs about $10 million to replace between four and six miles of sewer pipes. The authority has had about $12 million annually to put toward replacement costs in recent years. 

Morris says that should increase to about $30 million in the next five years.

“Those are rate payer dollars, if you pay a water bill in Albuquerque, then some of that money is going to the capital program,” said Morris.

Leaders say the life expectancy of older pipes is 50 years, while the new, specially-lined ones they’re using now could last 100 years. 

Morris says it could take a decade or more to replace all 80 miles that need attention.