ActivePaper Archive Jal sets 6-month moratorium on RV parks - Hobbs News Sun, 7/25/2019

Jal sets 6-month moratorium on RV parks

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SUBMITTED PHOTO According to Mayor Stephen Aldridge, there are more than 700 RVs in Jal supplementing limited housing for oilfield workers. The city’s strained “antiquated and inadequate” wastewater treatment plant forced the city to impose a six-month moratorium on new RV parks while experts determine next steps. A new plant is expected to take up to three years to construct.

JAL — City officials will take no new applications for recreational vehicle parks in Jal for the next six months.

More than 700 RVs already in the city, added to homes and businesses using the small town’s “antiquated and inadequate” wastewater treatment plant, have forced a stand down.

The city council Monday approved a resolution calling for the moratorium, reduced from an originally proposed one year to six months, while experts attempt to determine the source of unusually high nitrates at the plant and find a way to mitigate the problem.

After discussions about being fair to individuals who already have plans for an RV park, City Manager Matt White said, “If you’ve already applied and approved, you’re allowed to do it.”

Record oil production in the world’s largest oilfield strains the resources of small towns like Jal, even if swarms of workers boost gross receipts revenue.

The recent fiscal year ended with $2.7 million more revenue than expenditures, White said.

In recent meetings, the Jal City Council, concerned about the town’s already out-of-compliance wastewater treatment plant, began considering a temporary moratorium on additional RV parks for up to one year.

With an estimated 5,000-6,000 people crowded onto an infrastructure initially supporting just over 2,000 residents, the town of Jal both rejoices and bemoans the current oil and gas boom.

Test wells surrounding the city’s sewage treatment plant and lagoons have been yielding higher nitrates than allowed by regulations. The New Mexico Environment Department has threatened action against the city for the violations.

Meanwhile, some Jal residents hoping to cash in on the oil boom have been requesting zoning variances to allow them to establish RV parks on their property.

“That got the attention of the council,” Mayor Stephen Aldridge said in a previous interview. “It’s something we need to take a pause on until we get a better grip and understand where to go and how to manage it.”

Efforts to update the wastewater treatment plant, or replace it, have already begun.

After the city council approved a resolution to establish the RV moratorium, it approved another resolution for a preliminary engineering report (PER) on the wastewater treatment plant. Stantec Consulting Services Inc., an Edmonton, Canada firm, will perform the study.

White said the city likely will be constructing a new plant, but it may take up to three years before it is completed, including the PER, engineering, requesting bids for construction and actual construction.

In other business, the council approved an agreement with Hobbs-based Ramirez and Sons to perform road repair at a cost of almost $2.65 million.

Curtis C. Wynne may be contacted at reporter3@hobbsnews.com .