Utility Faces $1 Million Fine After Months Of Boil-Water Advisory

by Sara Jerome, originally posted on December 14, 2016


New Mexico regulators have cracked down on a water utility after the system left customers under a boil-water notice for months on end.

After issuing several notices to the utility, regulators ordered it to pay $1 million for issues that have left thousands of customers under a boil-water advisory since June, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The problems date back to at least May, the report said, citing state data. State environmental regulators received customer complaints about water quality. State investigations revealed problems including “a malfunctioning valve that allowed backwash water to enter the distribution system,” the report said. Environmental officials found high levels of sediment in the system, the report said.

The utility, Animas Valley Water, “has consistently told regulators it is acting appropriately under the circumstances and is making a good-faith effort to rectify the problems,” the report said.

Nevertheless, regulators decided to take action last month.

“The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted unanimously [in November] to impose the penalty on Animas Valley Water, and ordered it to supply water to the customers whose systems have been most severely affected,” the report said.

A Public Regulation Commission spokesperson said, per the report: “AV Water (is ordered) to immediately provide safe and potable drinking water — bottled or otherwise — to all Harvest Gold residents.” Regulators decided to impose a $1 million fine, and “AV Water now has 30 days to pay the fine,” KOB 4 reported.

“AV Water has been supplying its customers with water from the city of Farmington since July 22. Though the boil water advisory for Morningstar customers was lifted in September, the advisory for Harvest Gold customers remains in effect,” the Albuquerque Journal reported.

The problems at AV Water attracted the attention of well-known environmentalist Erin Brockovich earlier this year. Brockovich did not mince words in her criticism, saying it the utility must be among the worst water systems in the country, according to KOB 4.

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