Water conservation urged to end boil advisory

Brett Berntsen
Russ Caskey, with contractor JCH, works on Friday on a new pump station to provide AV Water customers with treated water from the city of Farmington.

FARMINGTON —Crouch Mesa community members are urging water conservation as work continues to end a lengthy boil advisory affecting nearly 7,000 residents.

The AV Water company, which owns and operates the rural water systems serving the area, has completed construction on a pump station to provide customers with treated water from the city of Farmington. General Manager Fred Whistle said the company will need to completely flush the existing water from its pipes before the boil advisory can be lifted, however. He said the process will begin at some point next week.

Kalee Chivers Grothe, an organizer of a protest group formed in response to the dilemma, said residents will need to cut back on showers and laundry to ensure there's enough supply to complete the flush.

"We need to be conserving water like crazy," she said. "That's the only way we can end this."

AV Water's Morningstar and Harvest Gold supply systems have been under a boil advisory since May 25 due to consistent failures at the company's treatment plant. In response, the company has abandoned the facility and entered a long-term contract to buy bulk water from Farmington.

The AV Water company has completed construction on a pump station to provide customers with treated water from the city of Farmington.

The final stages of the connection were completed on Friday, but the project is still awaiting approval from the New Mexico Environment Department. NMED spokeswoman Allison Scott Majure said in an email that inspections and sampling must occur before the boil advisory can be lifted.

"We are continuing our oversight to ensure the water is safe to drink," Majure said.

The NMED originally imposed a July 15 deadline for AV Water to complete the pump station. The company said in a written update issued on Friday that its lawyers will file for a formal extension.

Chivers Grothe said the state needs to stick to its deadlines and hold AV Water accountable. She said the protest group will explore taking legal action against the company, but restoring services remains the priority.

"Our No. 1 goal is to get clean drinking water," she said. "But this battle is not even close to being over."

Brett Berntsen covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606.