Legislators will meet with residents on Feb. 21 to discuss forming mutual domestic water users association

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FARMINGTON — State legislators will meet with residents of the Harvest Gold subdivision next week to discuss forming a mutual domestic water users association.

Sens. William Sharer, R-Farmington, and Steven Neville, R-Farmington, and Reps. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, and James Strickler, R-Farmington, sent a letter to residents in the subdivision inviting them to attend the Feb. 21 meeting.

The letter, dated Friday, states the four legislators believe forming a mutual domestic water users association is the best option for the residents.

The subdivision, which is located east of Bloomfield, has been without potable water since June. Major infrastructure projects, such as an interconnection to the city of Bloomfield, have been identified as possible solutions. However, the water system that serves Harvest Gold is privately owned by AV Water Co., which has struggled to pay its bills.

"After exhausting other potential solutions of having either Blanco Mutual Domestic Water Users Association or the city of Bloomfield take over your water system, it has become clear that the quickest solution to obtaining clean treated water from the city of Bloomfield is to form a mutual domestic water users association," the letter states.

When reached by phone today, Bandy said a mutual domestic water users association would help residents secure funding for infrastructure. He said funding options are currently limited because the water system is owned by AV Water Co., a private entity.

"Because of the state constitution, we can't give money to a private company," he said. "But we can to a mutual domestic."

A mutual domestic is considered a public entity and is governed by a board.

Bandy said Harvest Gold either needs its own mutual domestic or it needs to merge with an existing public utility, such as the city of Bloomfield or Blanco Mutual Domestic Water Users Association. Bloomfield officials have said they are not interested in taking over Harvest Gold, and, after months of negotiations, Blanco decided not to pursue acquiring the water system.

Local lawmakers have requested reauthorizing $3 million of capital outlay money the county received last year for water-related projects, such as connecting Harvest Gold to Bloomfield infrastructure.

"That's on the top of the list," Bandy said.

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AV Water attorney Germaine Chappelle has offered to provide free legal services for the mutual domestic water users association.

"I refuse to give up until we get a solution for them," she said.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 21 in the multi-purpose room at McGee Park, 41 Road 5568, Farmington.

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

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