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Connecting Harvest Gold to a nearby water system could provide residents with clean water

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FARMINGTON — The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission has unanimously approved a resolution urging the New Mexico Finance Authority to approve a request from the Blanco Mutual Domestic Water Users Association for funding for a project that officials hope would provide clean water to residents of the Harvest Gold subdivision east of Bloomfield.

Next week, the New Mexico Finance Authority will consider the request for $55,000 to build a pipeline that would provide clean water to Harvest Gold residents.

If approved, the pipeline would connect the Harvest Gold subdivision to either the Blanco system or the city of Bloomfield’s system. That would allow officials to shut down the failed water treatment plant. Blanco currently purchases water from the city of Bloomfield and could pump the water downhill to the subdivision from its storage tank a short distance away.

The Harvest Gold water system is owned by AV Water Co. While Blanco is interested in purchasing the small system, the board of the mutual domestic water users association has said funding needs to be in place before it takes ownership.

Last week, Lloyd Ayliffe, operator for Blanco's system, told The Daily Times the first priority once the funding is in place will be to get clean water to the Harvest Gold residents.

Harvest Gold is one of two water systems owned by AV Water. The New Mexico Environment Department issued boil water advisories in June for both the systems due to high turbidity levels. The boil water advisory was lifted for the other system, Morningstar, in September after it was connected to the Farmington water infrastructure.

Bill Garcia, the division director for consumer relations for the PRC, updated commissioners on the status of the Harvest Gold operations during a meeting today in Santa Fe, which was streamed online.

Garcia said there is no evidence AV Water has been consistently billing customers. Garcia also told commissioners water is not being properly treated in the Harvest Gold subdivision. He said customers have reported algae building up in toilets and washing machines.

On Dec. 2, NMED issued a notice of violation to AV Water for using the wrong filter media in the water treatment plant. The notice was issued after an inspection could not determine if the pumice used in the filters met certification standards.

NMED gave AV Water until Nov. 28 to provide information about the certification of the pumice. After NMED did not receive the information, it issued the notice of violation.

Garcia said the Blanco proposal is the best option for getting clean water to Harvest Gold subdivision.

During the PRC meeting, Commissioner Lynda Lovejoy praised the resolution.

"It’s a really very clean, positive resolution," she said.

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

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