PRC expedites hearing for Harvest Gold transfer
FARMINGTON — The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission has approved an expedited hearing about the transfer of AV Water Co.'s Harvest Gold water system to the Blanco Mutual Domestic Water Users Association.
The Harvest Gold system — located east of Bloomfield — is one of two drinking water systems owned by AV Water. The New Mexico Environment Department issued both systems boil-water advisories in June due to high turbidity levels. The other system — which serves Crouch Mesa — had its boil-water advisory lifted in September, but the boil-water advisory remains in effect for Harvest Gold.
An application AV Water submitted to the PRC on Tuesday states the turbidity readings have been in compliance with state drinking water standards for the past 20 days. The application asks the PRC to approve transferring Harvest Gold's system to the Blanco MDWUA. During a meeting today, the PRC set a hearing for Wednesday in Santa Fe. At the end of that hearing, the PRC may approve the transfer of the system.
It is unusual for the PRC to give only one week's notice for a hearing, but Russell Fisk, who serves as counsel for the PRC, said there is a precedent for expedited hearings in similar cases.
Fisk highlighted the Dutchman's Hill Water Company case from about nine years ago. The Dutchman's Hill Water Company served a little more than 100 customers in an area about 10 miles north of Aztec. At the end of 2007, Dutchman's Hill customers were without water over the Christmas and New Years holidays. The nearby North Star system had lines within 1,000 feet of Dutchman's Hill. The PRC set a hearing with one week's notice for the transfer of the Dutchman's system to North Star Mutual Domestic Water. The PRC eventually approved the sale of Dutchman's Hill to North Star for $1.
The general manager of North Star, Lloyd Ayliffe, also manages the Blanco MDWUA.
"He has successfully been able to come in and help troubled systems in the past," said Germaine Chappelle, an attorney for AV Water.
The Blanco MDWUA has been managing the Harvest Gold system since the beginning of October.
AV Water states in its application that the transfer to the Blanco MDWUA will allow the Harvest Gold water treatment plant to be abandoned and will also open up public funding sources to fix the system.
"Those public funding sources aren't available to a private company like AV Water, or at least some of those sources aren't," Fisk said.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.