San Juan County Commission reallocates capital outlay funds to three water infrastructure connection projects, including one in Harvest Gold subdivision

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AZTEC — Residents in the Harvest Gold subdivision who have been on a boil water advisory since June may soon see relief after the San Juan County Commission unanimously approved a request to use $3 million of capital outlay money intended for the Flora Vista wastewater system on other water infrastructure projects.

During a meeting today in Aztec, commissioners approved using the money for three drinking water projects, including one that would provide a permanent source of clean water to residents of the Harvest Gold subdivision east of Bloomfield.

"I hope this really helps Harvest Gold," said Commission Chairman Jack Fortner during the meeting.

If the governor and state Legislature approve the change, $500,000 of the $3 million grant will be allocated for the construction of infrastructure to connect the Harvest Gold water system to the Blanco Mutual Domestic Water Users Association.

Another $2.35 million would be used to connect the North Star Water Users Association with the Upper La Plata Water Users Association. The connection would also include East Culpepper Flats. The handful of residents who live in the East Culpepper Flats area are currently hauling water. Mike Stark, the county operations officer, said the connection has been ranked No. 2 on the county's infrastructure capital improvements plan list for several years.

That project, in addition to providing water to an area that currently hauls its water, would provide secondary water sources to two water utilities in the county.

"It's a very important regionalization project," Stark told commissioners.

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The only project ranked above that connection is the Flora Vista wastewater system.

While the county received the $3 million to construct the wastewater system, it has been unable to build the first phase because it is expected to cost $9.1 million. During a meeting with local legislators, county officials were warned that the county could lose the $3 million if it did not use it for other projects that could be built in the near future.

Any money leftover after the Blanco and Harvest Gold connection and the North Star and Upper La Plata connection would be used to complete a connection between North Star and Flora Vista Domestic Water Users Association. The connection is currently 75 percent complete and was paid for by $3.4 million from the New Mexico Water Trust Fund. An estimated $450,000 is needed to complete the connection between North Star and Flora Vista.

In other news, commissioners unanimously chose Fortner, previously the commission's chairman pro-tem, to serve as the chairman. Margaret McDaniel was selected as the new commission chair pro-tem.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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