By: C.T. Barnes
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News 7.03.22
It is common for Las Cruces citizens to take advantage of the early morning New Mexican air with a nice walk. The question is, have you ever wondered what lies beneath your walking path?
In the past 10 years Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) Natural Gas Compliance Inspector Ruben Garcia has had the privilege of working on many of the new natural gas lines installed as Las Cruces continues to grow. Starting as an LCU welder, Garcia explained how a high-pressure gas line versus a low-pressure gas line is installed.
High pressure gas lines are created for taking the natural gas to longer distances in an efficient way. Low pressure gas lines break off into neighborhoods and businesses to easier control the flow of natural gas to that building. “When you have a low-pressure gas line, it is easier to shut off a section of it when there is a leak or problem that needs to be looked at,” Garcia explained.
Most residents of Las Cruces do not know what type of lines are directly in front of their house. Garcia told a story of a dispatch call with his crew involving a water main break. The problem was that the water line was right next to a natural gas line. When his crew showed up to the scene the owner of a nearby home was verbally upset at the duration it was taking to correct this water line and did not understand the need to wait for a natural gas crew.
“The most important thing in that situation was customer service and keeping the homeowner calm,” Garcia explained. “I simply explained why it was taking so long to fix the water break, and why a LCU natural gas crew was called to the scene to make sure the line would not be nicked, potentially causing a longer time to repair both lines,” Garcia concluded.
After the simple action of explaining the different lines that were below the street, the homeowner calmed down and allowed them to continue their work. Garcia emphasized how important this interaction was because utility or construction crews cannot skip a step or not include LCU natural gas crews when performing quick jobs.
“Many people do not realize that each natural gas line has a code linking it to the person who installed it,” Garcia stated. “In case something happens 30 years down the road, that person can still be held responsible if proven that proper protocol was not followed when installing or fixing that line,” Garcia explained.
Many factors come in when it comes to the safety of Las Cruces citizens and workers from construction to utilities. LCU has each step strategically laid out to confirm that everything is done right the first time. This could end up as a quick or extended fix. LCU’s main goal is to work with all Las Cruces citizens, utility crews and construction crews to maintain the safety of the city.
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities
For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: LCU natural gas line installation - Courtesy LCU