LAGUNA – Many people have noticed the newly dug hole just outside of the Sky City Casino.
Members of Travois New Markets, a nationally certified Community Development Entity, recently closed a New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) plan.
U.S. Bank has announced that this is the beginning of the new water infrastructure project that was announced on Nov. 15.
The project will provide a water/wastewater infrastructure that will improve the quality of water and firefighting readiness for all six villages in the area.
“Leaders from the Pueblo of Laguna know you have to be creative to spark development in this economy,” said Phil Glynn, vice president of Economic Development at Travois. “Not only does this project create jobs but they will lay the groundwork for future economic development in this highly distressed rural community.”
The project is a water/wastewater infrastructure project developed by the Pueblo of Laguna Utility Authority. The utility authority is an independent non-profit entity owned by the Pueblo, which develops, manages and maintains utilities for the Pueblo of Laguna, which happens to be the largest of the 19 New Mexico pueblo nations. The Pueblo and the utility authority realize the need to rehabilitate their water and wastewater structure. The current old and dilapidated structure has become very costly for the Pueblo in both maintenance and repairs. The current system has three separate water systems, which provide water for the six villages. Each village has its own waste water system.
The project is estimated to cost 7.3 million dollars.
“Through the NMTC Program, the Pueblo of Laguna and the utility authority were able to raise the critical funding for the $70 million water and wastewater repair and improvement project,” explained Governor Richard Luarkie. “This was a great opportunity for the pueblo to address these critical infrastructure needs in our community and improve the quality of life for our people. We look forward to future innovative approaches to funding and financing capital needed and improvements on behalf of our community.”
Jim Hooper Jr., Pueblo of Laguna chief of operations added, “The Pueblo of Laguna has been working to finance and fund the $70 million water and wastewater repair and improvement project for the last couple of years. The NMTC program has afforded the Pueblo an added opportunity to advance this infrastructure project. The project is one component of a 10-year, multimillion-dollar infrastructure development that the Pueblo is undertaking.
NMTC financing will help the Pueblo rehabilitate the wastewater lagoons within its six villages, ensuring a safe water and wastewater system for Pueblo of Laguna members for generations to come. This upgrade, to be completed by September 2013, is expected to increase capacity by 60 percent during the next 20 years. The water project will also increase firefighting readiness by 33 percent immediately.”
Financing for the project includes a $7.3 million allocation of tax credits from Travois, sponsor capitol, and more than $2.1 million of NMTC equity from U.S. Bancorp Community Develop Corporation.
“Every community deserves access to basic necessities,” said Matt Philpott, director of New Markets. “ Access to water will address serious sanitation and health concerns, provide improved fire protection, and attract additional commercial development. We’re proud to have helped bring this project to life with Travois.”
The project has already broken ground. The Pueblo hopes to have the new structure completed by September of next year. With current problems with water and water sanitation, the community’s response has been positive and receptive of the new project and the success of its completion.