City councils weigh funding for water projects

Farmington and Bloomfield city councils will meet this week

Hannah Grover

FARMINGTON — The City Council is expected to approve a grant from the New Mexico Environment Department for the Animas River Restoration Project during its meeting Tuesday evening.

A stretch of the Animas River through Berg Park is the target of a proposed restoration project that the Farmington City Council will consider at its meeting Tuesday.

Cory Styron, the director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs, said the project will encompass about 0.9 miles of river starting at the Rocky Reach Landing in Berg Park. In addition to the river, it will also include about 10.9 acres of river bank.

The $237,000 grant is estimated to cover the full cost of the project, and the city hopes to start on the restoration later this year.

"We're really excited to get this going," Styron said.

He said both the city and the River Reach Foundation — a nonprofit organization dedicated to river stewardship — have been waiting for the project for years.

Styron said the project will reshape a cross section of the river, leading to higher flows during the dry part of the year, as well as deeper pools. The deeper pools in the river could lead to better fish habitat.

The proposed Animas River Restoration Project is designed to reshape a cross section of the river nearly a mile long.

The project will also remove non-native invasive plant species, like the Russian olive. Those plants will be replaced with native species.

The river restoration is also intended to stabilize banks and reduce the amount of sediment that builds up in the Animas River.

In addition to Farmington, the Bloomfield City Council will also consider funding for water-related projects during its meeting on Monday.

It is expected to approve a memorandum of understanding with the North West New Mexico Council of Governments for that agency to act as a fiscal agent for two grants Bloomfield received from the New Mexico Environment Department. The city is required to have a fiscal agent because it did not complete a fixed asset inventory during the fiscal year 2015 audit.

The two grants include an $840,000 grant for an effluent reuse project and a $222,000 grant for an alternative water supply diversion project, according to the agenda packet.

The city will be required to pay up to $25,680 to the North West New Mexico Council of Governments, the agenda packet states.

In its recent audit, the city did include a fixed asset inventory, and officials hope to have the requirement for a fiscal agent removed so that it will not affect future grants, according to the agenda packet.

The Bloomfield City Council meets at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 915 N. 1st St. The Farmington council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 800 N. Municipal Drive.

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