Home News Local News City resolves to face immediate needs on West Gayle line breaks

City resolves to face immediate needs on West Gayle line breaks

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City Engineer Louis Najar explains the process of fixing the West Gayle Street waterline break to the Infrastructure Committee on Aug. 27. Councilors Jeanine Corn Best, Caleb Grant and Juan Oropesa listen to Najar’s presentation during that meeting. On Thursday morning, the Finance Committee had the item up for discussion and voted to not approve the resolution for funding as proposed. (Alison Penn Photo)

Water Department identifies more possible leaks

After discussion on the line breaks on West Gayle Street, the city of Roswell decided to authorize interdepartmental transfers rather than dipping in the water enterprise reserve funds as presented by City Engineer Louis Najar on Aug. 27 at an infrastructure committee meeting.

The Finance Committee deliberated on what should be done on the waterline breaks, but did not vote to transfer the funds. All of the councilors voted against the proposed resolution to use funds from the water enterprise reserves and the measure did not pass.

City Councilor Caleb Grant, chair of the finance committee, recommended that Najar and his team halt other projects to focus on the 1-mile line from South Main and South Sunset Avenue that is currently shut down. Grant asked if the some of the funds can come from the $3 million Country Club Reservoirs project and using the reserves can be put off for another year. The committee asked Najar to update them on the project within the next two months.

“As I described at Infrastructure, right now we are pinching the water hose and we’re raising the pressure around the whole water system in town — and we’re causing collateral damage with other leaks,” Najar said.

Lorenzo Sanchez, the water and sewer line superintendent, said several more breaks were expected for the city’s water system. Sanchez said the department is facing another project identical to the West Gayle Street project. The other project is near East Third Street and North Garden Avenue and Sanchez said the funding will come out of the $1 million Edgewood Waterline project to install the large valves at this location.

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Najar added that other possible leaks are expected at South Main Street and East Poe Street and another at North Kentucky Avenue and West Mescalero Road.

City Finance Director Monica Garcia said the water enterprise reserve funds had $1.4 million, not $1.1 million as stated in previous coverage, and she believes this is acceptable at this point and time. However, she said she agreed that the committee’s decision to not allocate those funds was the appropriate choice. She said there was $14 million in Capital Projects — exclusively for water — and though such projects are budgeted, the city is not always able to work on them as budgeted.

In regards to using the enterprise funds to supplement the general fund, she said the department is doing testing on direct and indirect costs to ensure the city has been meeting standards in the past, which is being examined. Garcia added the city may be looking to an outside auditor for this testing.

After the committee’s discussion, City Manager Joe Neeb and Garcia stated the transfer would happen from one department to another; Garcia said the amount of the transfer would be documented and Neeb said he would create a report for the City Council.

“I said that’s about the best plan we can do is hold back on some of the projects that we have the ability to hold, use the money to take care of these immediate needs, and then as we progress through the year then we can look at our schedule and everything,” Neeb said. “We don’t know what all of this work is going to do to our schedules.”

Neeb said the same kind of adjustment was done with the $3 million to replace the asbestos pipe along East Second Street (US Highway 380) that feeds the Roswell Test Facility and Bottomless Lakes State Park that the council unanimously voted on in May. This decision also postponded the Edgewood Project to fix asbestos waterlines in the eastern section of the city. Neeb said he wanted the council to have responsibility for moving that much money.

The city has authority to transfer within the funds from the Department of Finance & Administration and Garcia said she and Neeb have discussed setting a policy to create the threshold on the amount the city can transfer. Garcia said Neeb was not comfortable transferring such a large amount with council’s authority, just like with the decision regarding the Edgewood Project.

Originally, Najar was asking for $800,000 to put a line stop to shut off the live lines, a 42-inch on Sunset and 36-inch on Main Street, where valves are leaking in the present moment. He said “pressure-ups” on the side streets need to be replaced because they are also leaking. Najar went through the information on the shutdown waterline. He said they are keeping it shut down because it took 36 hours to shut it down. He added that the hard part is waiting on the parts and did not have an estimated timeline for the project.

Najar said J&H was “the only company in the state” qualified to do the job and explained after ground around the lines are excavated around 12 feet deep the company will come in with their large equipment to install a one-time valve to close off the line. As mentioned in Thursday’s article, Najar said the $800,000 will only cover the work and funds from water maintenance and transmission will cover the cost for the streets the city will have to destroy to get to the lines.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.