Torrance County Commissioner Schropp Responds to EMWT’s Legal Concerns

Torrance County Government Offices - a seventies-era Brutalist government building beneath ominous clouds
Torrance County Government Offices - Todd Brogowski/Mountainair Dispatch

In a recent statement, Torrance County Commissioner Sam Schropp discussed his decision not to endorse financial support for the Estancia Moriarty Willard Torrance County Regional Water Association (EMWT) during the current legislative session. Schropp said that EMWT board member Michael Anaya approached him seeking a letter to Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham, but Schropp refused based on his belief that writing such a letter would violate his duties to truthfully represent EMWT’s status to the governor. Specifically, Schropp said that EMWT remained in non-compliance with its reporting obligations to the New Mexico Secretary of State. Schropp's decision reflects years of ongoing legal issues faced by EMWT.

Commissioner Schropp recounted an incident from May 10, 2023, when it was revealed by Estancia Mayor Nathan Dial that EMWT had not maintained good standing with the New Mexico Secretary of State due to neglected quarterly reports. Schropp noted that, while the records EMWT had submitted were “full of misfilings and failures to comply with the regulations,” he did not want to accuse its board members of criminal malfeasance. Schropp said that, despite the minor cost and effort required to file the reports needed to be in compliance with rules monitored by the New Mexico Secretary of State, EMWT's consistent oversight failures raise concerns about the organization's capacity to manage funds and adhere to state regulations. Schropp emphasized the necessity of regulatory adherence to ensure the ethical use of taxpayer money.

Schropp noted that, instead of committing to fix these non-compliance issues during this May 10, 2023 meeting or to rebut the accusations of non-compliance raised by Dial, EMWT board chairman Bobby Ortiz got into an argument with former EMWT board member Jason Quintana that required Willard Mayor David Dean to physically restrain Ortiz. Referencing what he described as unprofessional conduct, Schropp expressed frustration. “This is the current leadership of EMWT,” Schropp sighed in a February 18, 2024 interview.

Schropp urged the community of McIntosh to actively participate in the process of either replacing EMWT or pushing it into compliance, drawing parallels with a successful rural water system initiative in Illinois that benefited from strong community engagement. “If the people of Torrance County and especially McIntosh want a rural water system, the people of Torrance County and McIntosh are going to have to make it happen. It is not enough to come to a commission meeting every other month and accuse Commssioner Schwebach of all kinds of conspiracies to steal your water, then leave. Chairman Schwebach is urging you to get involved.”

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