City acts to buy Jornada Water for about $16 million

City acts to buy Jornada Water for about $16 million

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By Mike Cook
Las Cruces Bulletin

The City of Las Cruces hopes to buy Jornada Water Company for more than $16 million.

At its Tuesday, July 5 regular meeting, the Las Cruces City Council unanimously approved a resolution condemning the company’s water utility assets.

Assistant City Attorney Marcie Driggers told the council that adopting the city resolution is the first step in the condemnation process. The next step, she said, is getting approval of the condemnation in state district court. Then, the city will conduct a bond sale to raise the $16.4 million needed to pay the negotiated price for the water company’s assets, Driggers said.

Mayor Ken Miyagishima referred to the council’s actions as a “friendly condemnation. Jornada Water Company attorney Matthew Holt of Las Cruces confirmed that the company approached the city about purchasing the water company.

“Acquiring the company’s water utility assets will allow the city to provide water service to areas inside and outside the city limits where the utility already provides wastewater and natural gas service,” Las Cruces Utilities director Dr. Jorge Garcia said in a city news release.

The privately owned Jornada Water Company “serves approximately 3,500 residential and commercial customers on the East Mesa and in Mesilla Park, the South Valley and Las Alturas areas,” according to the news release.

“The sale includes all water system infrastructure and 5,961 acre feet of perfected and unperfected groundwater rights,” the news release said. “Parts of the company system already meet Las Cruces Utilities’ standards and include 20 well sites, eight booster stations, eight storage tanks and approximately 90 miles of two-inch to 12-inch water lines.”

“In addition to acquiring the company’s water utility assets, the city would employ the company’s four personnel, initially on a contract basis then potentially as full-time staff,” the news release continued.

“Under Sec. 1.03 of the Las Cruces city charter, ‘The city may exercise its power of eminent domain to condemn private property, real and personal, which is employed for a public purpose where by resolution the city council determines that such condemnation will serve the public interest,’” city officials said in the news release.

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