Dealing with the Closing of the “Community” Well
Wow. What a roller coaster this well business has been! Back in January of 2015, our ability to get water became problematic. I wrote about the excitement it caused out here in the desert.
Since that last post, there have been a couple major changes to how members of our community get their water.
Don’t Piss Your Neighbors Off
In the last post about this topic, I mentioned that the community well had been sold to a local rancher. Details about what actually happened are sketchy, but I suspect that the rancher was sold the well and didn’t know about the fact that he was contractually bound to provide water to the members of the community, and that he had to maintain the well and access to that supply.
The well experienced some large downtimes shortly after the rancher was informed of his obligations. At one point, the well was nonfunctional for several weeks. Because of this, some of the more hot-headed members of this community threatened to sue the rancher and he decided to close the well permanently, blocking all community access to the water supply.
Since Linda and I had our potable water trucked in from El Paso and didn’t (yet) have need for the well water, this didn’t really impact us that much at the time.
The “New” Well
During all this commotion over the sale of the well, the original owner of all the land for sale got fed up with all the infighting out here and decided to sell the entire operation to a couple people who live in the community.
One of the first things they did was to open a well on a property that had defaulted. Where the original well was open 24/7/365 and you could have all the water you could haul, the new well set some limits that had many locals on fire. The well would be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday every week, and on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month. The hours on these days were 10AM to 2PM. There was also a weekly limit of 600 gallons per property owner. There was no provision for how many people lived on the property.
This caused quite an uproar in the community, and the same hotheads that annoyed the rancher started making noises about suing the new owners. There was a lot of hubbub and hurt feelings for a while, but things calmed down eventually.
Around this time, Linda and I purchased another cabin and attached it to our existing one so that we could install a flush toilet and have an actual bathroom. Because of this, we had a need for the non-potable water that was at the well, and thus our involvement in the well fiasco began.
The Final Chapter
In November of 2016, we found out that the company that was hauling our potable water to us from El Paso had gone out of business. We began searching for a source for potable water. At the time, we still had a few months supply remaining in our tank, so the pressure wasn’t huge.
Then, the other shoe dropped. In January of 2017, members of the community received certified letters from the new owners of Antelope Acres stating that the community well would be closed effective February 17, 2017. This meant that everyone out here had to start hauling water from the nearest municipal source. This is in Dell City, 25 miles one-way.
Again, the talk of lawsuits is in the air. According to the agreements we signed when we purchased our property, we are entitled to access to a community well. So, there likely are legal grounds here. However, most of the people out here don’t have the money and/or time to pursue the matter legally. It’s easier (and less stressful) to just haul our own water from Dell City.
I was able to borrow an 18-foot trailer for long-term use from a friend so that we can go to Dell City for our water.
I sat down and crunched the numbers. Including the cost of fuel and purchasing the water from the water company in Dell City, out cost to haul potable water from Dell City is about 2/3 that of what we paid to have it brought from El Paso.
In the end, our cost for water is higher than it used to be. Our non-potable water used to be free, except for the cost in fuel to go fetch it. The cost isn’t exorbitant, so we will be okay in the end.