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While drought conditions continue, City Council votes to lift water shortage advisory

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The Animas River is pictured, Monday, Dec. 8, 2020, near Cedar Hill.

AZTEC — While Farmington continues to see drought conditions and low streamflow, the city is lifting the water shortage advisory implemented in early September.

The Farmington City Council unanimously voted to lift the stage one water shortage advisory during the Dec. 8 meeting that was conducted via Zoom and can be viewed online at fmtn.org/AgendaCenter.

This move came as the current conditions do not meet the criteria for having a stage one advisory and the winter water usage is generally low.

The stage one advisory asks for voluntary 10% conservation of water consumption.

The city has various criteria it looks at when deciding about implementing water restrictions or advisories. This criteria includes snowpack, the amount of water in the lake and the Palmer index, which measures drought conditions.

Community Works Director David Sypher said the lake is basically full at this time and the snowpack in the San Juan River Basin is 100% of normal for this time of year. Meanwhile, the Animas River Basin's snowpack is 69% of normal for this time of year.

However, Sypher said streamflow is 59% of normal and the Palmer Index classifies the Farmington area as being in a moderate drought. The city uses the Palmer Index, however the U.S. Drought Monitor, another index looking at drought conditions, classifies the Farmington area as being in exceptional drought, which is the most severe category for the U.S. Drought Monitor.

A bird flies over Lake Farmington, Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Farmington.

With La Niña weather patterns in play this year, Mayor Nate Duckett said the region should anticipate a drier winter. However, he said doing away with the water shortage advisory made sense at this time and the advisory can be reinstated in the spring if needed.

With the low winter water usage, Sypher anticipates that Lake Farmington will remain full throughout the winter and into the spring. However, if the mountains in Colorado do not get enough snowpack and there is not a decent spring runoff, the city will need to reimplement drought measures like the water shortage advisory.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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