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Concerns surround Harvest Gold interconnection

Bloomfield Irrigation District board chairman Andrew Dean says AV Water Co. has not paid its bills since June

Hannah Grover
hgrover@daily-times.com
A treatment pond at the Harvest Gold treatment plant east of Bloomfield is pictured on Tuesday.
  • The Bloomfield City Council may apply for $184,500 in state funding to build an interconnection.
  • AV Water owes nine months of payments to the Bloomfield Irrigation District for using its ditch.
  • Bloomfield City Manager Eric Strahl says the city cannot "absorb an ongoing problem or delinquencies."

BLOOMFIELD — As the city of Bloomfield considers an interconnection with the troubled Harvest Gold water system, city officials say there are various concerns that have to be addressed before the project becomes a reality.

"There's a lot of work that has to happen on the other end that is outside of the city's control," City Manager Eric Strahl said.

Those concerns surround the ownership of the Harvest Gold water system and a series of complaints alleging that AV Water Co., which owns the Harvest Gold water system, has not paid its bills.

Among those unpaid bills is a monthly fee to use the Bloomfield Irrigation District ditch to transport water to the Harvest Gold treatment ponds in the southeast portion of the subdivision. Board Chairman Andrew Dean said the irrigation district has not received the $185 monthly payment from AV Water since June. Dean said the ditch will continue delivering water to the subdivision in spite of the lack of payments.

The irrigation district also spent $4,000 to pay HydroPure Technology to deliver water to Harvest Gold's small treatment pond when a breach occurred on the earthen structure last year.

AV Water attorney Germaine Chappelle said the Bloomfield Irrigation District and other contractors have provided valuable services, and the company intends to pay the invoices if it is able to sell its assets. She said another factor complicating the situation is that the Harvest Gold water system was not included in the receivership that most of the other assets were included in.

A bridge leads over the Bloomfield Irrigation District ditch to the Harvest Gold water treatment plant Tuesday in the Harvest Gold subdivision east of Bloomfield.

AV Water has been rendered unable to collect bill payments from Harvest Gold customers due to a New Mexico Public Regulation Commission order. The company's other system, Morningstar, was placed in receivership in January. The receivership means a lender-appointed receiver is now operating Morningstar, including collecting revenue from billing. While the receiver is in charge of all the operations, AV Water continues to own the system.

The Bloomfield City Council will consider submitting an application to the state board of finance for $184,500 to build an interconnection between the city and Harvest Gold. If that application is approved, Bloomfield would own and operate the infrastructure that would be built. The council will meet at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 915 N. 1st St.

In a memo that is included in the Bloomfield council agenda packet, Strahl states that Bloomfield cannot "absorb an ongoing problem or delinquencies."

Andrew Dean, the board chairman of the Bloomfield Irrigation District, talks Tuesday about the ditch that provides water to the Harvest Gold subdivision east of Bloomfield.

When reached by phone Friday, Strahl said the city would have to construct a pump station and a section of water main as part of the project. He said it also would have to install electronic controls on the storage tanks that would allow the city to know how much water to pump into the tanks.

"You can't really do that if everything's still owned by AV Water," Strahl said.

Harvest Gold residents are currently considering forming a mutual domestic water users association, a move that would allow them to receive state funding and purchase water from the city of Bloomfield. If formed, the mutual domestic's board would set rates. The revenues from the rates would be used to pay for the water received from the city of Bloomfield.

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