Wastewater facility nears completion

Russell Anglin

A new wastewater treatment plant in San Jon is almost finished.

USDA Rural Development State Director Terry Brunner visited village officials Monday and toured the new facility, in which village wastewater runs through sewer lines into three large lagoons lined with plastic to keep the sewage from seeping into the ground.

San Jon Public Works Director Wade Lane said about 98 percent of wastewater from the plant evaporates into the air. He said that some wastewater had to be applied to regulated land when the project started, but now evaporation will take care of most sewage.

Cody Sipes of Dennis Engineering, the company constructing the treatment facility, said San Jon’s pipeline infrastructure is in need of improvement, and that the new treatment facility will help.

“They have an aging system of water pipes that were put in in the ‘50s. They have problems with hard water that … clogs up meters and things like that. We also in our engineering report had several in town collections systems made out of clay lines, so we’re replacing those. We have done two phases with this USDA grant that has helped a lot. We did some collections lines that went with the wastewater treatment facility. We had three lagoons and it really went a long way to help contamination of the groundwater resources in the area,” Sipes said.

Lane said there are 137 water meters in San Jon.

San Jon transports its water from Logan by pipeline. According to Sipes, the pipeline from Logan was completed in 2004.

Brunner and village officials discussed efforts to bolster San Jon’s infrastructure and economy. Sipes said the village is working with engineering firm R.M. Draker and Associates to put together a comprehensive plan to attract businesses to San Jon.

“Some of the ideas so far coming around are revitalizing some of the old busineses along Route 66. We’re really looking into trying to get people to stop here because they are on I-40. They’ve got a source if they decide to stop off here,” Sipes said. “We are looking at different avenues.”

“We just need some people to move in,” Mayor Billie Jo Barnes said.

Brunner discussed a number of rural development funding initiatives the USDA undertakes.

“There is an ethanol plant in Portales that uses sorghum as its feedstock and they’ve produced an ethanol product and they’re going to most likely put in an application with us where we pay on credit per gallons produced, and they employ, I think, at least about 50 people there. If farmers in the area could think of a way to produce the type of feedstock that could be used for biofuel, there’s demand for biofuel in California. We’ve got some incentives to set up refineries and those types of things. That is a bigger project, obviously, but maybe that is something Tucumcari could look at, too, and then provide some jobs,” Brunner said. “I talked to (Quay County Economic Development Director) Pat Vanderpool and he had some good ideas like that. We’re trying to get some of them started to keep these communities going.”

Sipes said the entire wastewater facility, located south of the village office off Center Street, was funded by the USDA. He said the project began in January and should be finished in the next couple of weeks. According to a USDA press release, the treatment facility cost $600,000, which the agency provided with a $441,000 grant and a $159,000 loan to the village.

“It is a big improvement from what we’ve had,” Lane said.