Village of Columbus, New Mexico: Sewer System Upgrades
As the site of Francisco “Pancho” Villa’s 1916 raid into the United States and the base of President Woodrow Wilson’s “Punitive Expedition” into Mexico led by General “Black Jack” Pershing, few communities have more historic ties to Mexico than the Village of Columbus. Located three miles north of the US-Mexican border and its sister city of Palomas, Mexico, this community of approximately 1,500 residents has seen growth in tourism and economic activity in recent years due in part to its unique setting. Continued development of the port of entry at the US-Mexico border is expected to further enhance economic activity.
Despite these trends, this largely Hispanic community faces water and sewer system infrastructure challenges common to rural communities throughout the United States. In April 2022, the Village’s Public Works Director, Robert Gomez, reached out to Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) to conduct a sewer rate study. The purpose of the study is to develop fair and sustainable rates that will support proposed infrastructure improvements, including the construction of a new facultative pond named in the Village’s 2022 Asset Management Plan. Existing sewage facilities include two treatment plants (main and port of entry), two lift stations, and approximately 21 miles of PVC collection line.
Following the community work plan developed for the Village, RCAC has worked closely with municipal staff to gather information needed for the sewer rate study including budget, sales, and asset data. These activities were supplemented by a site visit in late July 2022 to inspect existing facilities. RCAC will discuss and share preliminary rate recommendations at upcoming public meetings. With the incorporation of public input, RCAC expects to supply final recommendations for council adoption in the coming months.