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FARMINGTON — The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission heard arguments for the transfer of water system assets within the Harvest Gold subdivision from its current owner to a newly formed association representing residents during its weekly meeting today in Santa Fe. 

A transfer agreement between the AV Water Co. and the Apple Orchard Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association was signed Tuesday but must be approved by the PRC. A decision had not been made as of this afternoon.

Apple Orchard is made up of residents of the Harvest Gold subdivision. If the PRC approves the transfer, Apple Orchard will be able to use public funding to connect the troubled system to the city of Bloomfield infrastructure. That connection will allow the New Mexico Environment Department to lift a boil-water advisory for Harvest Gold customers that has been in place for more than a year.

"Everything that we've done hinges on this transfer agreement," said Ammon Burton, president of Apple Orchard.

 

The transfer agreement includes a stipulation that AV Water can back out of the deal if the PRC did not agree to waive more than $2 million in fines it has issued against Iuppenlatz and AV Water. Michelle Henrie, the attorney for AV Water Co. owner Mark Iuppenlatz, said that contractual right does not necessarily mean AV Water will back out if the fines are not waived.

AV Water has appealed the fines to the New Mexico Supreme Court, but will withdraw the appeal if the fines are waived.

"If those fines and penalties are waived, (Iuppenlatz) has no ax to grind in the Supreme Court," Henrie said.

Burton said he understands that by signing the agreement, the fines and penalties against AV Water could go away.

"I still have to think about all of the people out there who need water," Burton said.

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

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