WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Steve Pearce announced that the North American Development Bank (NADB) has signed a $698,115 grant agreement with Mesilla, N.M., to improve the town's water distribution system and provide new water hookups. The project will increase access to potable water service, improve service reliability and eliminate conditions that negatively impact water quality, helping reduce the risks associated with waterborne diseases.
The Mesilla community relies on the Mesilla Bolson Aquifer for water, but a 2015 audit of the system through the Border Environment Cooperation Commission (BECC) found several inefficiencies. Currently, some residents rely on private wells for drinking water. But during periods of extended drought these wells are vulnerable to going dry, forcing residents to haul water for domestic use. In addition to the inconvenience, hauling water for domestic use may pose a serious health risk from inadequately sterilized containers or cross-contamination from containers used to haul other materials.
The new funding comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Border Environment Infrastructure Fund (BEIF), which is administered by NADB. With a total cost of $761,646, the project consists of three separate water lines that, once connected, will add looping to improve the distribution system and serve the new hookups. Funds are also being provided by the New Mexico Environment Department.
“All New Mexico families deserve access to clean drinking water, wherever we live, and the border region has some of the greatest needs in the state,” said Udall, who has worked to secure funding to improve border environmental infrastructure through the BEIF as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This project will help ensure 1,450 New Mexicans in Mesilla will have a reliable source of clean water — and it's a great example of how we can strengthen New Mexico communities by working together. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’ll keep working to support and fund efforts to improve all types of border infrastructure in New Mexico.”
“Access to clean and affordable water is critical to New Mexico communities and plays a vital role and protecting public health,” Heinrich said. “This grant will provide needed funding for essential water infrastructure in a border community that desperately needs it. We must continue to make investments in water security so New Mexico communities like Mesilla can depend on a safe and reliable water supply for generations to come.”
“All New Mexicans understand that having reliable access to clean water supplies is essential in preserving and expanding our communities and way of life,” Pearce said. “These improvements will bring stability to the city of Mesilla, which will allow the city to grow stronger and expand. I commend the EPA for making this grant possible and would implore them to prioritize more funding for purposes like this, rather than spending funds on the creation and promotion of rules that hurt the West.”
“This project is an example of how NADB and BECC continue to support the smallest communities in developing their projects, which wouldn’t be possible without grant funding,” said NADB Managing Director Gerónimo Gutiérrez. “We are glad we can help Mesilla provide clean water and better services for all its residents.”
“The findings of the audit were also useful in implementing a recommendation to update the water rates and replace meters, providing a significant impact on revenue generation for the utility,” said Maria Elena Giner, BECC General Manager. “These actions have improved meter accuracy and operational efficiencies, allowing the utility to focus on other maintenance needs.”