This Huitt-Zollars graphic shows the plan for improvements at Well Site 9 northwest of Rio Rancho. Courtesy of Huitt-Zollars and the City of Rio Rancho.

A planned three-phase project to rehabilitate a city well site would improve system efficiency and maintain the quality of drinking water, according to the City of Rio Rancho.

Well Site 9 is off King Boulevard outside the city limits, northwest of Rio Rancho. It has a well, a reservoir and an arsenic-removal facility.

“Site No. 9 is arguably one of the most important well sites in the city and, therefore, it is important to keep this well site in operation and viable for the city,” said Utilities Director Jim Chiasson. “That means a new well and a new, larger tank is necessary to help supply the city with water well into the future.”

The improvements would involve adding a security fence, drilling and equipping a new well, constructing a new 3-million-gallon steel reservoir tank, getting an arsenic-treatment facility that can clean more water and laying new 16-inch water lines, according to the city. The project is in the planning stage, and is expected to take a total of at least three years.

“To reliably supply existing and future customers, Site 9 needs to be redeveloped,” according to the technical memorandum to the city from Huitt-Zollars project manager Wes Vote. “The deteriorated condition of Reservoir 9 is cause for concern and requires the city to perform additional water quality testing at this site.”

The technical memorandum says Well 9, drilled in 1987, originally produced 950 gallons of water per minute. Its permit would have allowed for 1,500 gallons per minute, but the well was never equipped for that production.

According to the memo, the well has started producing sand, which decreases its capacity to 450 gallons a minute and requires the city to replace the pump every two to four years. Also, the well wasn’t drilled straight, creating maintenance problems.

The power supply is inconsistent and the site has no lightning protection, according to the memo. That situation leads to occasional power outages and limits water production.

To make matters worse, according to the memo, the site’s single 10-inch water line limits its ability to get water to developed areas of the city.

For Phase 1, according to the city website, the city is paying for the engineering and land acquisition, and seeking a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers grant for the new water tank.

The city has a 25-year $15.15 million loan through the New Mexico Finance Authority Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund for phases 2 and 3. Of the loan, almost $469,000 can be forgiven and the rest will be repaid with revenue from water utility, according to city information.

Phase 2 is expected to consist of redrilling and equipping the well and replacing the water treatment facility, while Phase 3 involves putting in the new water line, according to Vote’s memo. The new arsenic-treatment facility is necessary to handle the redrilled well’s increased production, according to the city.

For more information, visit