Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988

Up Front

Placitas Studio Tour

This annual event is back Mother’s Day Weekend May 8-9. See Arts Section for details on the over 40 participating artists.

David Cramer

On May 2, the community will gather to remember well-known wildlife photographer David Cramer.
Read more about David and his “true calling” in the Real People Section on page B1.

Le Fooding

Le Fooding, a movement-turned-business that for the last ten years has spoken for a new generation of Franco Foodies, is an experience you’ll want to read about. See Signpost page C1.

Bernalillo continues water struggle, loses stimulus funding

—Ty Belknap

On April 5, the Town of Bernalillo made the decision to suspend the arsenic treatment project for Wells 1 and 2 until results are available from Well 4. This action reversed a February 1 approval of an $8.6 million contract to Archer Western Contractors to construct the new treatment facilities, and a $620,000 contract to a local company, ARS-USA  to install its aluminum-based electro-flocculation technology at those wells. The decision means that the town will lose $3.2 million in federal stimulus funding it had secured to help pay for the project because the stimulus funds were tied to a deadline in May that will not be met.

The $4.9 million electro-flocculation system purchased from ARS-USA during the previous administration has failed on two occasions this year to reduce arsenic levels to acceptable levels, resulting in violation notices from the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED). It also causes a gooey sludge of aluminum hydroxide which clogs home water filters and is consumed in drinking water.

On March 29, the New Mexico Environment Department Drinking Water Bureau had approved the use of ferric chloride for the removal of arsenic at Municipal Wells 3 and 4. The addition of Ferric Chloride was proposed by Wilson & Company, an engineering firm retained by the Town to prepare a corrective action plan.

The Town began an incremental injection of ferric chloride on April 15, in addition to the ARS system. In order to monitor iron particulates from the ferric chloride and aluminum hydroxide sludge from the electro-flocculation that might break through the filtration system, the Town installed a cartridge filter, like those on home filtration systems. The corrective action plan also includes a change of filtration media at Well 3 from zeolite to anthracite sand.

Mayor Jack Torres told the Signpost, “The ferric chloride system is the industry standard for arsenic removal and is used up and down the Rio Grande. The ARS system did not produce consistent results, so I concurred with the difficult town staff-and-council decision to hold off on using that system on Wells 1 and 2, even though it meant we will lose the stimulus funding.”

Torres said that it would take time to test the ferric chloride system on Wells 1 and 2 after the the corrective action plan is completed on Wells 3 and 4. When the town is satisfied that aluminum sludge is no longer entering the water, the entire system will have to be drained and all the tanks and pipes flushed.

Bryant Furlow, an investigative reporter for the New Mexico Independent who has been following this story over last several months, reported on April 14 that the town has been operating the ARS system in violation of state law since 2008. According to his report, neither the Town nor NCS—the engineering firm hired to construct the system—has submitted the required written notification and final submissions to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED).

NMED confirmed an absence of a final approval, even though it has been monitoring the system. The paper trail at NMED also contains gaps and no legal action is planned. NMED officials have pledged to continue to work with the Town to solve the problem. The absence of a final permit might enable the town to completely eliminate electro-flocculation, which is apparently being phased out from its system.

Norbert Barcena, president of ARS-USA, wrote in a letter that appears in the Gauntlet [this Signpost] that his company is being unfairly blamed for Bernalillo’s water woes. He writes, “Put simply, the ARS system works; the filtration system doesn’t. The filtration is not provided by ARS, and no request has ever been made of ARS to provide the filtration. In fact ARS has been denied access to the operation to determine or monitor the effectiveness of the filtration system that previously was provided by NCS. [NCS was fired by the Town in February following the arsenic violations and the appearance of the floc in drinking water.] When working properly, the second stage of the water treatment system—which is completely separate from the arsenic removal process—filters and eliminates various contaminants, including the floc. The remaining water goes into the drinking water system contaminant free.” Barcena says that proper filtration is also necessary for water sampling and accurate measurement of arsenic levels.

Apparently an association of sixty residential water consumers in Tijeras agrees with Barcena. Furlow reported in the April 22 Independent that the Green Ridge Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association plans to become the second community in the U.S. to install an ARS-USA system—Bernalillo being the first. Barcena says that his company will also be involved in the filtration system design.

Furlow reports that a pilot project of the system was successful, according to Association member Shirley Hughes who said, “It took out our fluoride, did a wham-bang job at that. And it will also take out our arsenic, so we’ll kill two birds with one stone.” The Green Ridge water system has some of the highest arsenic and fluoride levels in the state. The engineer in charge of the project said that ARS will not be paid until the Green Ridge system has functioned successfully for sixty to ninety days.

Meanwhile, the Town’s expenses keep rising and the quality of the water supply remains questionable. Wilson & Company continues to work on the arsenic removal system. Neither the Town, ARS-USA, nor NCS are discussing unresolved legal and contractual issues.

Road Construction

Road projects on schedule for summer completion

—Ty Belknap

Maria Rinaldi, Town of Bernalillo Director of Planning and Capital Programs, reports that the ongoing road construction projects that have slowed travel through the town are scheduled for completion this summer. The Camino del Pueblo “Streetscape” makeover is slightly behind its scheduled June 13 completion. The Town Council will soon take action on the approval of Phase II of the project which will move construction north on Camino del Pueblo. The Streetscape plan may eventually include the south end of Camino del Pueblo and Avenida Bernalillo.

Rinaldi said that construction on Camino Don Tomas was ahead of schedule and should be finished by July 18 as scheduled. The construction is funded by federal stimulus dollars. When complete, the street will include one lane in each direction, a turning lane, curbs, and sidewalks. Flooding issues will be addressed by French drains which will cause water to pond in designed areas.

Neither project is designed to speed or increase traffic capacity. Rinaldi scoffed at the suggestion the road improvement would create better rush hour short-cuts through Bernalillo to Rio Rancho. “Why the heck would we do that?” she said. “We have no intention of accommodating Rio Rancho’s lack of planning.”

Candidates for the June 1, 2010 Primary Election

During the Primary Election to be held on June 1, Sandoval County voters will select candidates for several local offices.

For the House of Representative District 44, the choices are Democrat Joel A. Davis of Albuquerque and Republican Jane E. Powdrell-Culbert of Corrales.

House of Representative District 60, Democrat Jack E. Thomas and Republican Tonia Lynn Harris, both of Rio Rancho.

County Commission District 1, Democrat Orlando J. Lucero of Bernalillo, Republican Charles D. Mellon of Placitas and Republican Patricia A. Morlen of Algondones.

County Commission District 3, Democrat Larry Edward Naranjo of Rio Rancho and Republicans Donald G. Chapman and Todd Ray Hawthorne both of Rio Rancho.

Magistrate Judge Division I, Democrats Richard L. Zanotti and Dixie L.Trebbe of Rio Rancho.

Magistrate Judge Division II Democrat F. Kenneth Eichwald of Cuba.

Magistrate Judge Division III, Democrat Delilah M. Montano-Baca of Pena Blanca.

In the race for Assessor’s office, the candidates are Democrats Ronnie A. Sisneros and William M. Mast of Bernalillo and Republicans Pete David Salazar of Placitas and Tom Garcia of Rio Rancho.

For Sheriff there are two Democrats, Timothy T. Lucero of Algodones and Andrew M. Ortiz of Rio Rancho, and three republicans, Leonard Armijo and Gregory Paul Marcantel of Bernalillo and Douglas C. Wood of Rio Rancho.

Probate Judge, the Democrat candidates are Charles J. Aguilar of Bernalillo and Stevan Jay Schoen of Placitas; the Republican candidate is Mary O. Kwapich of Placitas.

Primary elections are an important phase in the voting process because they give people the ability to decide who the best candidate is. Unfortunately, many people skip the primary election and only vote in the general election, many of them later complaining that their party’s candidate is not the one they would have chosen.

Voter registration closes 28 days prior to the election. You may register in person at the Office of the County Clerk or at the Secretary of State’s Office.

For more information, contact the Bureau of Elections, Office of the Secretary of State at: (505) 827-3600 or (800) 477-3632.

ESCAFCA seeks Board nominees

—Signpost staff

The Eastern Sandoval County Flood Control Authority wasted little time in opening Dan Dennison’s seat on its Board of Directors when he moved from Placitas to Albuquerque. Dennison, who had been a board member of ESCAFCA since its controversial inception, was the only board member to seek tax relief for county property owners who were mislead about their tax burden when ESCAFCA appeared on the 2008 ballot.

ESCAFCA is seeking nominations for candidates to serve on its Board of Directors to fill the seat that represents Placitas. Governor Richardson will ultimately appoint Dennison’s replacement, but interested candidates should submit resumes to:

Dennison was recognized at the board meeting on April 13. Chairman Sal Reyes said, “You have been a vital member of the team which created ESCAFCA, and a moving force in getting our programs underway. Thanks to your perseverance and passion, we have embarked on programs which will benefit our district, and provide needed flood protection and policies. You have represented your constituents well, and you have also kept ESCAFCA’s overall objectives in focus. For these efforts, we thank you.”

Candidates must be at least 18 years of age and live in Placitas. For more information on ESCAFCA, go to




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