Fiber optic work takes toll on water lines

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

PORTALES — Portales residents in the 600 block of South Avenue A were without water at different times on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Officials blamed broken water pipes on poor maps being used to guide workers installing a fiber optic network for Yucca Telecom.

Yucca Telecom held groundbreaking ceremonies on Tuesday for its network, an $11.3 million project intended to bring faster Internet, high-definition television and video on demand services to Portales.

Raychel Randle, who lives in the affected area, said she was without water for a couple of hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Joe Ramirez, utilities superintendent for the city of Portales, said at least one broken water pipe was the result of an outdated map, which didn’t show a water line.

Tom Howell, public works director, confirmed the water leaks were caused due to the boring for the Yucca fiber-optic project. Howell said water leaks can also be caused when boring into a rock and shifting the path of the drilling, hitting a pipe.

“We’re trying to work together with the city to handle any problems,” said Scott Arnold, Yucca’s general manager. “As you bore, sometimes you’re dealing with some uncertainty.”

Arnold said the boring will take place over the next 12 months. Arnold said the contract work is being done by MP Next Level. Ramirez said MP Next Level workers have alerted city officials immediately after hitting a water line.

Howell said similar incidents occurred more than a year ago when natural gas lines were being installed for Public Services Company of New Mexico. He said water lines were hit during the boring for that project.

Ramirez said additional parts and supplies have been ordered to deal with water leaks should they happen again. Arnold said city water officials are trying to spot the water lines as best they can, but some water lines don’t show up at all on maps.

Ramirez said city workers responded on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and repaired water lines so that residents would not be without water for long.