by Joy Gipson
TRINIDAD — On May 18 the Trinidad Las Animas Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon in the Pioneer Room at TSJC. The guest speakers, presenting an overview of Trinidad’s aging infrastructure, were Gabe Engeland, City Manager, Assistant Manager Anna Mitchell, Mike Valentine, Utilities Superintendent, and Tom Beech, Pavement and Public Works Director.
“Infrastructure” is a catch-all term for our water and sewer systems, roads, and bridges; things we use everyday but give little or no thought to. We turn on a faucet and expect water to pour out of it because that’s what always happens. We rarely think of the complex system that delivers a simple glass of water to our kitchen, but those who monitor these vital resources tell us 53% of Trinidad’s water pipes were installed between 1890 and 1950 (before many of you were born) and that 75% of all our water pipes need to be replaced. We are now losing 40% of our treated water due to an antiquated water delivery system. A $3 million project is in place to replace old inefficient, corroded water pipes to stop this leakage and increase water pressure by 10%.
One hundred percent of the city’s sewer system was installed before 1960. The recent closure of part of Main Street was due to a catastrophic failure in the system that caused it to collapse. Sixty-five percent of our city streets will reach their estimated end of life in eight years. Trinidad’s infrastructure has been ignored for decades and has been dealt with on a “run to failure” basis, which is the most expensive and least efficient way to handle a city’s infrastructure.
Replacing the current failing infrastructure on an ongoing basis is the current city administration’s plan, a process that may take 25 years to complete. The good news is that, although last year’s closure of North Commercial Street was a great imposition on the city and some of its businesses, the replacement of the entire infrastructure of that part of the grid is now complete.