JAL, NM. (KWES) - The small community of Jal, New Mexico will soon be seeing more than $11 million. Jal has been dealing with water issues for years. Now a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is helping the community with their top priority.
"If you don't have water, you don't have a community. There's no greater priority," said Bob Gallagher, the City Manager for Jal.
The U.S.D.A. says the $11.3 million grant is the largest award given to a New Mexico community in the history of the program.
"It's absolutely amazing in a community of 2,200 people," said Gallagher.
"We have the available resources to help them out," said Terry Brunner, the New Mexico State Director for U.S.D.A. Rural Development.
Issues with the town's water lines became the community's biggest concern in 2013.
"Two summers ago, Jal was without water for four days because the delivery to the system had a break and there was no backup," said Gallagher.
The National Guard was called out to help out with that disaster.
"We don't want that to happen again. Jal's water lines are deteriorating. Some of them are asbestos. Some of them are steel. Some of them are pieces of cardboard I'm sure but they're 50 and 60 years old," said Gallagher.
Jal's City Manager says the water lines are causing them to lose 18 percent of their water through leakage. That's a problem they can't afford to have or fix.
"We base our grants on the median household income in the area. So if they have residents that are at a lower income level it means they probably don't have the ability to pay more for their water," said Brunner.
The City Manager of Jal says with the $11.3 million crews will be replacing every single water line in the city. That will improve the production, transmission and delivery of the water system.
"It's a transformational project for our community without a doubt," said Gallagher.