Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Southside Water Reclamation Plant Preliminary Treatment Facility transforms wastewater into a clean water source for use on city parks and golf courses that serve more than 600,000 residents.

Built more than 30 years ago, the original facility was performing inadequately and required upgrades to its screening room. The project team installed a high-efficiency screening room with finer grit-removal technology to catch large objects from wastewater coming into the treatment plant. These upgrades allow the screening room to catch more debris before wastewater enters the facility’s clarifiers, reducing long-term maintenance costs. The upgrades dramatically improve the efficiency of water treatment processes for Albuquerque and Bernalillo County.


As part of the project team’s contract with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, the Southside Water Reclamation Plant must meter all of the wastewater entering and exiting the facility to ensure compliance with their environmental contract. Under this contract, the facility is permitted to treat and release only a specified number of million gallons per day (MGD).

Because Bernalillo County doesn’t have a secondary wastewater treatment plant that would allow shutdown during the upgrades, the plant needed to stay fully operational during construction.

The project team set up four bypass pumping systems so the facility could continue to meter water levels. To connect these pumps from the existing facility to the new facility, the project team built the bypasses underground. These bypass systems channeled more than 100 MGD—the largest could channel 75 MGD on its own. That’s a lot of water to move—100 million gallons of water would fill more than 150 Olympic-sized swimming pools. On average, the facility reclaims about 60 MGD. Each year the plant recycles about 200 million gallons of water for irrigation.


The PCL project team and plant personnel worked side-by-side for the duration of the project. The challenge with this was that plant personnel were understandably curious about the construction happening at their workplace; the project team therefore had to keep plant personnel updated, but at the same time ensure safety on the jobsite.

To keep the facility’s 176 staff members informed of the upgrades and to mitigate safety concerns, the project team held two safety meetings a week. These employee meetings included construction updates and safety precautions associated with working near a construction site. By keeping employees informed and aware of possible concerns, the team maintained positive relationships with the client and plant personnel, and was able to ensure a safe and secure construction site. Plant staff appreciated the frequent updates, and their cooperation and engagement throughout the project helped keep operations running safely and efficiently on their worksite.

Now that the upgrades to the Southside Water Reclamation Plant Preliminary Treatment Facility are complete, the plant will be able to treat wastewater more efficiently for a growing population. Albuquerque and Bernalillo County residents will continue to enjoy the effects of this renewable water source on their golf courses, parks, and public green spaces.