Cleanup of river debris near Among the Waters Trail planned by city officials

Part of trail will be closed during work, which is expected to take one day

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A cleanup project designed to make the confluence of the Animas and San Juan rivers safer for rafters during this spring’s annual runoff season will take place this week.

The City of Farmington is partnering with the River Reach Foundation — the Farmington-based nonprofit organization that organizes the annual Riverfest celebration, and protects, promotes and enhances the area’s riverine corridors — on a project taking place on Monday, March 13. Local contractors recruited by the River Reach Foundation will gather that morning at the Among the Waters Trail on the west side of the city south of the Bisti Highway to remove concrete and other debris from the river that poses a hazard to rafters, according to a news release issued by the city.

An excavator will be provided by Ace Services, while Doug Foutz Construction is providing dump trucks and hauling. XL Concrete will recycle the concrete that is pulled from the river, crushing it for reuse in construction, road and landscaping projects, according to the release.

Crista Chapman, assistant director of cultural affairs and marketing for the city, said the debris includes large concrete chunks, old tires and reinforcing steel bar that was put in place years ago to help stabilize the riverbanks. Over time, she said, some of that material has slid into the river channel itself and now poses a risk to those who travel downriver in rafts, especially when runoff occurs and rafters are traveling at greater speeds.

Chunks of concrete and strands of steel reinforcing bar are pictured along the north bank of the confluence of the Animas and San Juan rivers near the Among the Waters Trail on Friday, March 10 in Farmington.

The cleanup is targeted for the spot where the Animas and San Juan rivers come together, with the San Juan River taking a sharp turn to the north beyond that point. Chapman said a pedestrian bridge once crossed the river at that point, but it collapsed several years ago.

She said city officials believe most of the debris that needs to be removed was not left over from that collapse, but instead is the product of those aforementioned stabilization efforts.

An old tire emerges from the bank of the Animas River near the Among the Waters Trail on Friday, March 10 in Farmington.

A section of the Among the Waters Trail, which runs adjacent to the river, will be closed beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, she said. The work is expected to be completed in one day, according to Chapman.

D’Ann Waters, president of the River Reach Foundation, said her organization received a good response from local contractors when it sought help with the project.

“It’s been on our wish list for probably six to eight months,” she said. “But it takes time to get everything organized.”

A project designed to remove concrete, steel reinforcing bar and other debris from the confluence of the Animas and San Juan rivers adjacent to the Among the Waters Trail in Farmington will take place on Monday, March 13.

Waters said another cleanup day for Farmington’s riverine corridors likely will take place in May, approximately two weeks before Riverfest, to get the waterways in top shape before the Memorial Day weekend-long festival unfolds. Volunteers will be sought for that project, she said.

Waters said plans for this year’s Riverfest are proceeding quickly, though organizers are working on relocating two of the festival’s longtime attractions. She said the car show likely will be moved to Boyd Park, while organizers are still searching for a more appropriate home for the disc golf tournament. Concerns have been expressed about spectators being hit by errant discs in the past, she said.

Riverfest is scheduled to take place May 26-28 in Boyd and Animas parks in Farmington.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 Support local journalism with a digital subscription: