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Rock slide blocks the Farmers Mutual Ditch. Wochit

Officials: Pipe would prevent landslides from blocking ditch

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KIRTLAND —The town of Kirtland will provide the company that operates the Farmers Mutual Ditch with at least $100,000 annually to help pay for piping the ditch.

The Town Council voted unanimously to provide the Farmers Mutual Ditch with the money during its meeting Tuesday evening.

In addition to the money the ditch company will receive from the town of Kirtland, it has also placed a $25 special assessment on each share of water. The money from the special assessment will go into a fund that can only be used for piping the ditch. Ditch company officials believe the assessment will generate $100,000 a year.

The ditch, which provides Kirtland with irrigation water and provides drinking water through the Lower Valley Water Users, is prone to being blocked by landslides. In early October, a rock slide blocked the ditch at the base of Harper Hill. The ditch company is in the process of cleaning the debris out of the ditch and hopes to have water running through it by spring.

More: San Juan County Commission asks state for help with rock slide

A pipe along the base of Harper Hill would prevent blockages in the ditch caused by landslides. However, piping the ditch is an expensive project.

"We can't put $20,000 to this and think it's going to do anything," Kirtland Mayor Mark Duncan said.

Duncan said piping 8,800 feet of ditch could cost $8 million.

The ditch company and the town are also looking for federal and state grants or loans to help pay for the project.

"Anything and everything is on the table right now, I think," Duncan said.

Town Councilor Thomas Wethington said he grew up working on the ditch and knows there are problems that need to be fixed. He said the problems should be fixed sooner rather than later.

"They need to be addressed," he said. "They need to be fixed. The price tag's huge now, and 10 years down the road, it's only going to be bigger."

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

More: County may request state aid after rock slide damages ditch

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