Harvest Gold customers wait for bottled water

AV Water attorney says residents could receive bottled water starting next week

Hannah Grover
A water tank sits above the Harvest Gold subdivision on Sept. 2. east of Bloomfield.

FARMINGTON — Although the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission ordered AV Water Co. to deliver bottled water to customers in the Harvest Gold subdivision starting Nov. 23, residents say they have not received any potable water from the company.

Residents in the small subdivision east of Bloomfield have been on a boil water advisory since June due to high turbidity levels.

During its Nov. 23 meeting, the PRC said it was AV Water’s responsibility as a utility to provide residents with potable water even though the infrastructure to deliver water had failed. Because the infrastructure could not be used to deliver clean water, AV Water was directed to deliver bottled water to residents.

On Tuesday, the PRC directed its staff to investigate whether or not AV Water had complied with the commission’s order.

Miriam Browning, a Harvest Gold resident, said her family has not received any bottled water.

"I knew we were not going to get anything," she said.

Residents of the Harvest Gold subdivision say they have not received potable water from the AV Water Co., even after the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission ordered the company to deliver water to customers.

AV Water attorney Germaine Chappelle confirmed the company has not delivered bottled water to the Harvest Gold residents. She said the company had a negative balance during the holidays.

"They were barely able to meet payroll," she said.

Chappelle said the company has now contracted with Cascade Bottled Water Co. to have gallons of water delivered to residents starting early next week.

Since the subdivision was placed on a boil water advisory, Browning said her family has spent $40 to $50 a week on bottled water, paper plates, plastic silverware and paper cups. She said she has even hurt her back filling up jugs of water and hauling bottled water to her house.

"They don't care at all," she said about the water company. "They never have. I know that. They don't even care, I guess, about the fines."

PRC fines AV Water Co. and its owner $1 million

Both New Mexico Environment Department and the PRC have fined AV Water. On Nov. 23, the PRC issued $1 million in fines against the company, its owner and affiliated companies.

The state Environment Department has also fined AV Water more than $800,000 for violations in the Harvest Gold system, as well as the other system the company owns, which serves Crouch Mesa.

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