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Aztec suspends new water connections in south service area, citing inadequate pipes

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The Aztec City Commission voted to suspend new water connections to the south service area.

AZTEC — The Aztec City Commission approved suspending new water connections in the south service area due to undersized pipes that create water pressure problems for residents in the area.

During the Oct. 13 meeting, Commissioner Austin Randall compared adding new service connections to poking holes in a small hose.

 “If there’s already a home and there has been service there before, that won’t change. But, if say, any of us bought some property out there and wanted to add service, that’s where it is going to be shut down. No existing service, even if it’s been turned off, right?” Mayor Victor Snover asked city staff to confirm after Randall expressed concerns about how it could impact home buyers.

Utility Director Delain George confirmed that existing houses, even those without current water service, will not be impacted.

Victor Snover

The water system was originally installed and managed by the North Heights Mutual Domestic Water Users Association. Aztec later acquired it from Bloomfield as it annexed areas to the south.

Randall said the problems experienced in the south service area are not due to poor planning and development by the city but are rather the result of inheriting the problems while annexing.

The City of Aztec purchased the system from the City of Bloomfield in 2001 for $115,000, according to The Daily Times archives.

At that time, the system included 88 customers, and 10 of those customers were within city limits.

George said that part of the system still remains in unincorporated areas and the county will be informed of the suspension of new water connections.

When the city purchased the system in 2001, then Commissioner Jack Scott cast a dissenting vote. He opposed the purchase because of inadequate pipes that would have to be replaced and concern that the city did not have the water rights to serve the additional customers.

A neighborhood in the south service area is pictured, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Aztec.

Bloomfield has also expressed concerns with the section of the former North Heights Mutual Water Users Association that it annexed and serves. According to The Daily Times archives, the waterlines in Bloomfield’s North Heights subdivision are also undersized.

The city says it could take up to five years to replace pipes and remedy the situation, but that largely depends on funding. Some of the work could be done within 18 months by connecting smaller service lines with existing larger pipes in a small subsection of the service area, according to the agenda packet. The rest of the project — which has a $750,000 price tag — remains unfunded.

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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