SANTA FE

Santa Fe would have to spend about $50,000 to hire an engineering firm to create a water and sewer master plan, city officials said Wednesday.

The proposed master plan, the first since 1991, would put city officials on a path to expand water and sewer systems in a town where about half the population relies on septic systems, officials said.

“It’s absolutely critical to get the growth this town needs,” Councilman Bill Pittman said in an earlier interview with The Daily News. “To get sewer is really important, though it’s the most expensive thing to do. It’s hard to have a business where a lot of the public is coming to it without sewer.”

The city council, along with the Santa Fe Economic Development Corp. and the Water Control Improvement District No. 8, heard Tuesday from engineering firm Kimley-Horn about the cost of the master plan and will now consider approving the concept at a future meeting, City Manager Joe Dickson said.

The $50,000 cost would cover a master utility plan and a land use plan and probably would be complete by the end of June or the beginning of July, Dickson said.

None of the three organizations approved hiring the engineering firm, but will probably consider the measure at the next meeting, Dickson said.

The next city council meeting is set for Feb. 22, Dickson said.

Expanding the city’s water and sewer capacity has long been a pursuit of city officials.

Only about half the city’s residents get water and sewer service through the improvement district, the rest rely on wells and septic systems.

“For years, people have asked me why they can’t get water and sewer from the city,” Santa Fe Mayor Jeff Tambrella said in a 2016 meeting. “The only answer we’ve been able to give is that it’s expensive. We need a guide to show a long-term plan that we are working toward.”

City officials have cited cost of the infrastructure and limits on the amount of water available as obstacles that must be overcome to expand the system.

“Laying sewer lines is extremely expensive,” Dickson said. “Even more so than water lines.”

Water control district officials in 2016 said it would cost $100 a foot for a water and sewer line — $60 a foot for just sewer and $40 for water.

The water control district also has a 1-million-gallons-per-day contract with Gulf Coast Water Authority and would have to go elsewhere if the system exceeded that, officials said.

Santa Fe uses about 400,000 to 500,000 gallons a day in water, up to 700,000 in the summer, officials said.

Officials are attempting to devise a workable plan and Tambrella has said it will take a large bond to expand the city’s water and sewer system.

Despite the obstacles, the city’s growth makes it necessary to expand water and sewer, officials said.

Santa Fe had a population of 12,222 in 2010 and that number grew to about 13,200 in 2016, according to U.S. Census data.

The last master plan, completed in 1991, helped address many of the issues present at the time, but a new one is needed to help growth continue, said Tommy Anderson, president of the Water Control Improvement District No. 8.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230; matt.degrood@galvnews.com

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