Bloomfield is applying for $184,500 from the State Board of Finance to connect its water system to Harvest Gold's water system


BLOOMFIELD — Bloomfield submitted an application to the State Board of Finance today for $184,500 in emergency funding that would allow the city to connect the Harvest Gold water system to its own infrastructure.

Although the Bloomfield City Council unanimously approved submitting the application during its Monday meeting, legal questions may cause the application to be pulled before the board of finance's March meeting.

Those questions center on the anti-donation clause, which prohibits cities from providing assistance to private companies. Right now, the Harvest Gold water system is owned by AV Water Co. Turbidity issues discovered in June led the New Mexico Environment Department to issue a boil water advisory for the water system that has been in place ever since.

State officials with the environment department and the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission have said the quickest way to get clean water to the subdivision is to build an interconnection to a neighboring water system. Initially, the Blanco Mutual Domestic Water Users Association expressed interest in connecting to Harvest Gold and eventually acquiring the system. But in January, Blanco backed out, citing legal and financial concerns.

Unlike Blanco, which was interested in acquiring the entire Harvest Gold system, Bloomfield would only supply water to the customers on the system, said Bloomfield City Manager Eric Strahl.

"The city is not approaching this from the standpoint of taking Harvest Gold in as part of its system," he said during Monday's meeting.

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City engineer Jason Thomas said the city estimates Harvest Gold will require 60,000 gallons of water a day, which could be purchased from Bloomfield.

"We have the capacity in our water plant to cover their demand," Thomas said.

Strahl said the anti-donation clause could also prevent the city from supplying water to Harvest Gold while it is owned by AV Water.

A group of Harvest Gold residents is working on forming a mutual domestic water users association. The group will meet at 2 p.m. Sunday at Diné Baptist Church at 64 County Road 4903.

If a mutual domestic is formed, it could receive $500,000 of capital outlay funding to fix the infrastructure. Residents have complained of water lines breaking and flooding yards, as well as low pressure and frequent outages.

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

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