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Drought conditions improving, but Farmington still asks residents to conserve

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
A Farmington official says relatively wet winter has allowed for an improvement in drought conditions in the area, as evidenced by the water level at Farmington Lake.
  • A stage one water shortage advisory is still in place in both Farmington and Aztec.
  • Both cities are asking residents to voluntarily conserve.
  • Farmington public works director David Sypher does not anticipate Farmington will make a decision on lifting the advisory until May.

FARMINGTON — Farmington public works director David Sypher is encouraged by the amount of moisture winter storms have brought, but he said it’s not time to say the region is out of the woods in terms of drought.

A stage one water shortage advisory is still in place in both Farmington and Aztec. Both cities are asking residents to voluntarily conserve.

David Sypher

Sypher does not anticipate Farmington will make a decision on lifting the advisory until May.

He said the precipitation the region has received has not been enough to make up for the severe drought that developed in San Juan County last year. Farmington experienced record-breaking drought last year with less than 3 inches of precipitation falling from Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018.

Sypher also cautioned that the relatively wet weather pattern the region has seen this winter could change, and dry conditions could return by May.

“We believe that it’s positive where we’re at right now,” Sypher said.

He said when it is closer to May, the city will know “whether to celebrate or not.”

This week, the U.S. Drought Monitor changed the drought category for more than half of San Juan County from exception to extreme. Exceptional is the most severe category on the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The drought level in much of San Juan County has been reduced from exceptional to extreme by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The monitor releases a map each Thursday showing the drought severity throughout the country. The map released Thursday changed the category for all but the eastern portion of the county.

The storms have improved the snowpack in the mountains. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service, the snowpack in the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan rivers basin was at 94 percent of normal, as of Friday. The basin was at 250 percent of the snowpack it had at this point last year.

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