Apple Orchard utility officially takes ownership of Harvest Gold water system

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Terry Scholz fills a jug with water, Friday, Sept 1, 2017 at the Apple Orchard drinking water fill station in the Harvest Gold subdivision.

AZTEC — The San Juan County Commission unanimously approved transferring ownership of the Harvest Gold Water System to the Apple Orchard Mutual Domestic Consumers Association.

The vote came during an Oct. 20 meeting that can be viewed on YouTube.

Apple Orchard is a community-owned water utility that formed during a boil water advisory as a way of getting public funding to repair and upgrade the water system.

The water system was previously owned by AV Water Co. and was one of two systems issued a boil water advisory in 2016. Because AV Water was a privately-owned utility, state funds or county funds could not be expended to fix the system. AV Water agreed to give the water system to the community as the company faced mounting financial challenges.

Because San Juan County served as the fiscal agent, the water system had to be owned by the county on paper. County Deputy Attorney Joe Sawyer said the county served as the fiscal agent for $2.35 million grant from the New Mexico Environment Department.

Gallon jugs of treated water sit in the home of Dusty March and Dawn Schumacher in the Harvest Gold subdivision in this undated file photo.

Sawyer said the county oversaw the decommissioning of the previous water distribution system and the replacement with a new one as well as installation of a new water tank and addition of a tract of land for access purposes.

The construction process was completed in May and, now that the work is completed, the county transferred ownership to Apple Orchard.

"It was a long haul and a lot of people said we couldn't do it," Apple Orchard Board President Ammon Burton said. "But we've done it and it's working."

Burton said the water utility is ready to keep on going.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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Harvest Gold resident Troy Hethcox, right,  fills jugs of water while talking with Doug Bryan, secratary of the Apple Orchard Mutal Domestic, Friday, Sept 1, 2017 at the Apple Orchard drinking water fill station in the Harvest Gold subdivision.