Board of directors election scheduled for 2 p.m Sunday

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FARMINGTON — After months of enduring a boil-water advisory, Harvest Gold subdivision residents are filing paperwork to form a mutual domestic water users association that would be known as the Apple Orchard Water Users Association.

Harvest Gold resident Robin Stephens said paperwork to form the association is being submitted to the New Mexico Secretary of State's Office. He said there will be an election of board members at 2 p.m. Sunday at a church in the Harvest Gold subdivision. The church is located at 64 County Road 4903 and is registered to the Diné Baptist Church. A Facebook page was also created for the Apple Orchard Water Users Association today.

Deputy Secretary of State John Blair said the office has not received the documents. He said it could take a few days to get them, depending on how the paperwork was submitted.

"Not everybody is 100 percent on board with this," Stephens said.

He said some residents do not understand why the state doesn't simply fix the infrastructure and charge the utility company, AV Water Co., that owns the system for the repairs.

While state agencies have fined the company more than $3 million, if AV Water pays the fines, the money will be placed in the state's general fund. As long as the system is privately owned, it is not eligible to receive any funding from the state to fix the system.

"I don't want this," Harvest Gold resident Miriam Browning said in regard to the formation of the association. "I don't want to do this ... but we're forced to because this is pretty much the last resort."

Browning said she is concerned about the amount of money required to fix the water system. She also is worried that residents will be learning about running a utility along the way.

The subdivision is located east of Bloomfield, and that town's water infrastructure is located just a short distance from Harvest Gold infrastructure. Officials believe the fastest solution to getting the boil-water advisory lifted and residents provided with clean water is to connect the two water systems. Harvest Gold then would purchase water from the city of Bloomfield.

The Bloomfield City Council has approved an application to the state board of finance for $85,000 in emergency funding that would allow the city to build the connection. But city officials are concerned the move could violate the state's anti-donation clause if AV Water continues to own the water system.

If Harvest Gold residents successfully form the Apple Orchard Water Users Association, the concerns about the anti-donation clause will be eliminated. The board of finance meets Tuesday in Santa Fe.

Browning and Stephens attended the City Council meeting when the application was approved and also have attended subdivision meetings to discuss the formation of the association.

"We want to get clean water to our house, and this is going to be the fastest way to do that," Stephens said.

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

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