by Sherry Goodyear
– SPRINGER — Springer’s new dam located west of town at the water treatment facility is nearly done. The project is funded by roughly $7 million dollars in grant money.
According to Shawn Jeffrey, Clerk Treasurer of the Town of Springer, the project has been in the works for three plus years and is being funded by two separate capital outlay allocations as well as a grant/loan/match allocation from the Water Trust Board which is part of the New Mexico Finance Coalition.
The grant portion of this segment of funding is for $573,000 and the amount Springer has to pay back, which is part loan and part match, is $159,000. The legwork for the building of the project began in August of 2014, with the actual groundbreaking in November of 2014.
The new dam is replacing two older, smaller dams one of which the State Engineer deemed as, “One of the most likely in the state to fail.” The oldest, smaller dam of the two was built in 1932 and met no federal dam regulations whatsoever; hence, the necessity to build a new one.
The first grant Springer got for the dam was for designing the project. Deb Miller, a Dam Engineer out of Colorado, was commissioned for that job. She created the plans for the dam, and once those were complete, Town of Springer employees wrote additional grants to help get all the funds necessary to complete the project. The State Engineer’s Office was also instrumental in helping allocate the funds necessary for the project and according to Jeffrey, nothing was done on the project without first, “Receiving their okay.” So far, $4.3 million of the grant money received has been spent on the project.
According to Laura Danielson, the town’s Water/Wastewater Supervisor, the new dam will hold the same amount of water as the two smaller dams – 300 acre feet – and will also include a small holding pond. All the water for the town of Springer currently comes from Eagle Nest Dam and is piped in through a 7.5 mile pipeline that was built just four years ago. It is hard to believe that somewhere between the middle to the end of August, the town of Springer will be using water from the brand new dam with all aspects of the dam being completed in either September or October of this year.
Construction of the dam is being done by RMCI Construction of Albuquerque. The company is carrying out the construction of the dam in the greenest way possible by reusing anything from the old dams it can. Driving through the construction site, one can see piles of rock, dirt, and junk that RMCI has strained and piled so the re-useable can be recycled into the new dam construction. The Dam Safety Office is overseeing everything to make sure the project is all done correctly.
The new dam should improve the overall quality of Springer’s water for several reasons. For example, the four inches or so of silt and sludge that had built up in the bottom of the older dams since the 1960s will be gone. Also, the new dam will allow Danielson to test the various depths of the water in the dam for purity, so she can pull the purest water in the dam into the water purification treatment plant for a cleaner, purer end product. Overall the new dam is a blessing for Springer – a town for whom attainment of fresh, clean water has been an ongoing challenge.