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Commission hears Chamisa water rate proposal

Rio Rancho’s Utilities Commission listened to a new  proposal from prospective buyers of the Chamisa Hills Golf and Country Club Tuesday night and agreed to consider reviewing rates for recycled water.

Local businessman Bob Gallagher and Jhett Browne, owner of the Farmer’s Market businesses in Albuquerque want to buy and restore the ailing facility but say the deal wouldn’t be economical with the present rate structure.

Chamisa currently gets recycled water for irrigation from the city 47 cents per 1,000 gallons under a contract that will soon expire. The rate will jump  to $3.28 per 1,000 gallons on July  1 under an ordinance city councilors approved last year.

They are asking the city to consider setting the rate at 20 percent of the potable irrigation rate, or $1.09 per 1,000 gallons, effective July 1. They ask that the rate remain at 20 percent of the potable rate as those rates increase.

“We don’t want a handout,” Gallagher told commissioners, but said the course is in poor condition and the course is losing $70,000 to $80,000 per month.

“Time is of the essence,” Gallagher said. He urged the commission to make a quick decision so they could start rehabilitating the property for the upcoming growing season.

Public Works Director Scott Sensanbaugher told commissioners that the goal with pricing would be to cover operating costs and a portion of the capital cost of producing the recycled water. At present, only Chamisa Hills and Vista Verde Memorial Park use recycled water but city schools and parks are expected to start using it in future, Sensanbauger said.


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Commissioner Moses Winston suggested reevaluating the recycled water rate to benefit a private business would mean other ratepayers would be subsidizing Chamisa Hills.

The comment appeared to irk Browne, who walked out of the meeting. Browne later said that if he couldn’t get some consideration from the city he might consider developing two existing wells on the property for the irrigation water source.

What wasn’t discussed at the meeting was the future of the North Nine portion of the 27-hole facility which hasn’t been irrigated since last summer. Gallagher has invited homeowners who live around the North Nine to a meeting at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow at Chamisa Hills clubhouse to discuss possible options.