Melrose awarded wastewater funds

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

The village of Melrose was recently awarded $400,000 to ensure safe drinking water for its residents.

According to Mayor Lance Pyle, Melrose received the funds through a Community Development Block Grant to improve the village’s wastewater treatment facility.

Communities applying for a CDBG must meet one of three criteria: benefit low and moderate income people; prevent or eliminate slums or blight; or have a particular urgency because existing conditions pose a serious and immediate threat to the community’s health or welfare.

The Melrose wastewater treatment facility met the requirements because of its proximity to domestic water supply wells that furnish drinking water to the residents of the village, according to New Mexico Environment Department environmental scientist Christina Kelso.

There is an urgent need to improve the wastewater treatment and disposal system to prevent ground water contamination, Kelso said in a letter included in the 500-page grant application.

Pyle said the current wastewater lagoon was not in compliance with the New Mexico Environment Department because of high nitrogen levels and lack of sufficient monitoring wells. Kelso, who inspected the wastewater site, also found the facility lacking a synthetic liner and fence to control access.

The mayor said the grant money will be used to begin construction on three groundwater monitoring wells in mid-June. The project is expected to be completed in August.

“I just want to work with the NMED to ensure my residents have safe drinking water,” Pyle said.

Melrose City Commissioner J.B. Burns said although there is currently no risk to the drinking water, village officials want to stay on top of the situation.

“Improving the wastewater facility is for the betterment of our community,” Burns said, “and the safety of our citizens.”