Calexico seeking to acquire acreage for water treatment plant expansion

February 25, 2001|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Plans are under way by public works officials here to acquire up to 25 acres in the northeast reaches of this city for the third and final phase of a water treatment plant expansion as well as for a new water plant some 10 to 15 years down the road.

"The community is really expanding to the east right now," Calexico Public Works Director Mariano Martinez said. "This will help take care of the sphere of influence to the east."

In coming months 1,200 acres north and east of Calexico will be annexed into the city's sphere of influence.

Martinez said the third phase of the expansion project — the construction of a 6 million gallon storage tank, pumping equipment and a 24-inch distribution line — will help serve what will likely be new homes in the majority of the annexation.

Because of anticipated northeasterly growth, Martinez added it is important to find a spot for a new water plant.


Both the storage tank and any new water treatment plant would be built on the same land. He added the city would likely look to place police and fire substations on the land.

While Martinez wouldn't reveal any specific locations the city is looking to buy, he did say three sites are being scouted, all of similar size and accessibility to roads, water sources and electrical power.

"We will be contacting the owners and if they're interested in (selling the city land) then the city will do some appraisals on the property," Martinez said.

When asked if the rising costs of Calexico-area real estate could affect the effort to buy land, he said, "Getting land just depends on how agreeable the land owners are with us. I don't see a problem."

As part of a $4 million bond issue the city purchased for the water plant expansion in 1996, money was set aside for land acquisition. Martinez said impact and users' fees paid to the city also will be used in the land purchase.

The third phase of the expansion project will cost the city about $4 million, split among bond issues and impact and users' fees.

On Tuesday, the city filed a certificate of completion on the second phase of the project, a $1.47 million 12- and 24-inch water line extending to the northeastern edge of Calexico. That phase was paid for by a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce's economic development agency with the remainder funded by the city.

The first phase of the project was the reconstruction of the existing water treatment, paid for by a $6.5 million grant from the North American Development Bank and the bond issue.

The City Council a few years ago also raised water rates to insure the upgraded plant would be self-sufficient.

Martinez was mindful to mention the land acquisition and construction of the third phase will not bring higher water rates to Calexico residents.

He added work done to both the water and wastewater treatment plants will serve Calexico's anticipated population through 2020.

Meanwhile, Martinez said public works is looking at obtaining additional funding from NADBank and the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission for improvements to the wastewater plant.

Although the sewer treatment plant went through extensive upgrades in 1998, he said there are several items, including clarifies and a sewer collection system, that need to be replaced.

He said the sewer treatment plant was built in 1967 and parts of it are extremely outdated.

"What we're doing is looking three steps ahead of us," Martinez said.

Staff Writer Richard Montenegro can be reached at 337-3453.

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