After having to truck in fresh water to make it through tourist season during the 2001 drought, the village of Cloudcroft, N.M., turned to a novel idea — spend $2.3 million to recycle wastewater for household use.

But the cost of the project has since swelled to nearly $6 million, according to a Legislative Finance Committee  report, and is likely to go higher.

Cloudcroft Mayor Dave Venable estimates the cost of the PURe water project will end up being about $6.2 million. The original completion date of 2006 has been extended repeatedly, and the new target date is late summer 2015.

Construction delays due to weather contributed to the sluggish timeline, as did a lack of  funding from 2009 to 2011, when budgets in every sector of state government felt the pinch of the Great Recession. In addition to these inevitable factors, the LFC blames bureaucratic inefficiency, complicated funding streams and mismanagement.

“Perhaps the issue with the largest impact to the Cloudcroft project was the lawsuit between the Village and its construction contractor revolving around poor workmanship,” New Mexico Environment Department spokesman Jim Winchester told New Mexico Watchdog. “This lawsuit took over two years to settle and basically brought the project to a complete standstill during this time frame, at which point, equipment and labor costs rose and added significant cost to the project.”

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