Residents of a rural area north of Clovis where running water is iffy have decided not to tax themselves for a new water delivery system.
Dozens packed the county Hall of Records on Tuesday to watch the vote counted on the long-running issue that has deeply divided the community.
Political signs on both sides of the debate have hung conspicuously from some of the area's roughly 430 homes, and more than one friendship has suffered.
Proponents of the tax had pushed for a steady supply of water for nine years because their wells have run dry. Opponents said the price tag -- which could have approached $58,000 per household -- was too high.
The unofficial final tally showed nearly 75% of households against the proposed assessment, meaning the lots will remain without a public water connection.
"I may have to walk away from my house," said Bonnie Shaw, whose home is without water. Shaw was one of the people who initially organized efforts for a delivery system. "No one's going to want my property because of the water situation. And I'm not alone."
The area that the proposed water system would have served, designated as County Service Area 51, is roughly bounded by Shepherd, Minnewawa, Armstrong and Copper avenues.
Those against the tax expressed relief.
"We cannot come up with equivalent of a Chevy Tahoe brand new," area resident Shawna Speake said. "I want to vote yes with my neighbors, but I feel like more of us think this is a burden."
The overall cost of the project was estimated to be more than $23.4 million. County public works officials had hoped to get help with the financing, but without a guarantee, residents faced the prospect of splitting the entire cost among themselves.
Voting for the mail-in election ended Tuesday. The votes were counted before a live audience in the county Board of Supervisors' chamber.
Said Supervisor Susan Anderson: "What you've seen here is democracy in progress."