Capital outlay requests focus on water

Hannah Grover
Bloomfield officials are seeking state funding to complete the river trail in Vereda De Rio San Juan Park.

FARMINGTON – During a four-year period from the late 1980s to the early 1990s, Bloomfield’s water supply was cut off seven times due to blockages of the single ditch that provides the city with all of its drinking water, according to The Daily Times archives.

As a result, Bloomfield has been trying to find a second source of drinking water, and city officials hope that wells tapping into the aquifer beneath the San Juan River will help solve that problem. The city has submitted a request for $222,000 of capital outlay funding to help pay for a study to see if the wells could supply Bloomfield residents with water. The study will involve drilling test wells and measuring the dissolved solids and the amount of water the wells can provide, according to City Engineer Jason Thomas.

One of the more memorable cases of the town's water supply being cut off came in October 1990 when a boulder described as being the size of a house fell into the ditch and took days to remove. Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein said the city came within a day of running out of water in its reservoir.

That request for funding of the study is one of three capital outlay requests that Bloomfield has presented to local state legislators. Other local governments are also submitting requests for capital outlay projects. Farmington, Kirtland and San Juan County have compiled lists of of their own.

City Manager Joshua Ray said Aztec did not submit requests for capital outlay funding because it received funding during the last session for the East Aztec Arterial Route.

The top-priority projects submitted from each local government focus on water. Farmington’s top priority project is the Villa View detention pond, City Manager Rob Mayes said in a text message.

The detention pond, which would be built in an empty lot at Country Club Elementary School, would serve to prevent flooding. The area was hit heavily by flooding during the monsoon season in 2013.

While Farmington’s No. 1 priority is controlling flood waters, Kirtland and San Juan County hope to expand their sewer systems.

A sign for Vereda De Rio San Juan Park is pictured Thursday in Bloomfield.

County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter said hooking Flora Vista residents up to the Farmington sewer system is the county’s top priority. That goal is part of an effort by the county and local municipalities to reduce the number of residents dependent on septic systems, he said. The county has been working with Kirtland to decommission a sewage lagoon and install sewer lines along U.S. Highway 64.

“Now we’re addressing Flora Vista,” he said.

Kirtland is planning a similar project. Mayor Mark Duncan said the town hopes to use capital outlay funding to expand the sewer system.

One of the main reasons local officials are intent on hooking up residents to sewer systems is that septic systems are seen as a potential source of contamination of local rivers with human waste. Duncan said there are septic systems in Kirtland that are failing, but residents cannot afford to hook up to sewer lines.

Other potential projects on the capital outlay lists of local governments are road improvements. San Juan County is asking for funding to help replace a bridge on County Road 5500 and to improve county roads. Its list also includes the Upper La Plata and North Star Regional Water Connection Project, and improvements to the Lower Valley and Blanco senior centers.

Farmington is asking for funds for the top five projects identified in its Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan. Those projects include making streets more pedestrian and bike friendly, and expanding Piñon Hills Boulevard to County Road 3000.

Vereda De Rio San Juan Park is pictured Thursday in Bloomfield.

In addition to the water study, Bloomfield also is asking for funds to improve drainage on East Blanco Street and to finish construction of the Vereda del Rio San Juan River Trail.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.