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AZTEC — Two projects centered on protecting water supplies and getting more residents connected to sewer systems were discussed at tonight’s San Juan County Commission meeting.

The commission unanimously approved increasing the amount of money in it will borrow from the New Mexico Environment Department to connect the Harper Valley subdivision to the Valley Water and Sanitation District’s wastewater system. The subdivision currently has its own wastewater treatment plant, but the plant is failing.

The county approved an increase in the loan from $500,000 to $750,000. County Operations Officer Mike Stark said the increase was due to some right of way issues, as well as increased estimates for the construction cost.

Stark said construction likely will begin on the project in January or February. The Valley Water and Sanitation District will pay the county back over the next 20 years.

The commission also unanimously approved a planning grant agreement with New Mexico Finance Authority to reimburse the county for money spent on a study that examined ways to address potential contamination of wells by septic tanks in the Totah subdivision located south of Farmington.

There are more than 120 lots in the Totah subdivision, and residents rely on septic tanks and domestic wells. Due to high groundwater levels in the subdivision, there is potential that the wells could be contaminated by sewage. During tonight’s meeting, Commissioner Keith Johns called addressing the potential contamination in the Totah subdivision a “dire need.”

“The hope is to tie those homes into nearby city of Farmington infrastructure,” Stark said.

Following the study, the engineers recommended connecting those homes to Farmington's system. Stark told commissioners that it will take about $5.5 million to connect the small subdivision to Farmington’s system. The county likely will ask for capital outlay money to complete the project.

In other news, the commission also approved applying for federal money available through the New Mexico Department of Transportation to enhance 80 miles of motorcycle, ATV and mountain bike trails in the Glade Run Recreation Area. If it is awarded the funding, the county would be responsible for paying about 5 percent of the $700,000 project costs, and the Bureau of Land Management would pay 9.56 percent of the costs. The rest of the money would be funded through the grant.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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