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Spring snowmelt, releases from Navajo Dam have created potentially dangerous conditions near two local rivers. Hannah Grover, hgrover@daily-times.com

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reduced releases from Navajo Dam over the weekend as the Animas River peaked

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FARMINGTON — The Animas River has receded a little bit, but that will likely only bring temporary relief, according to County Emergency Manager Mike Mestas.

Mestas said the Animas River is predicted to peak again on Thursday, June 13.

A peak in the Animas River over the weekend led to trails being closed in Farmington and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation decreasing flows from Navajo Dam.

Flooded trails create hazards in Farmington

The City of Farmington is asking people to stay off of flooded trails. Spokeswoman Georgette Allen said the flooding could create issues with infrastructure and lead to electricity in the water.

She said the trails on the south side of the Animas River remain open, however parents should closely supervise children while near the river. 

Allen said Farmington does not know how long the trails will remain closed.

More: Access to part of Berg Park closed due to river levels

Flows reduced in San Juan River over the weekend

Susan Behery, a hydraulic engineer for the Bureau of Reclamation, said the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management called the bureau and asked it to reduce flows from 4,670 cubic feet per second to 4,000 cubic feet per second.

This reduction comes while the bureau is trying to release up to 5,000 cubic feet per second to clear debris from the San Juan River channel.

More: What to know about the upcoming Navajo Dam water release

Behery said the bureau increased flows again on Monday, June 10, with the hope of making it to 4,500 cubic feet per second.

“We may or may not get to 5,000, but we’re going to just do what we can,” Behery said.

Behery said the Bureau of Reclamation will begin decreasing flows on Wednesday, June 12. The Bureau of Reclamation anticipates flows will reduce to 500 cubic feet per second by Saturday, June 15.

The Bureau of Reclamation tries to coordinate the release from Navajo Dam with the peaking of the Animas River to clear out debris and maintain the channel below the confluence of the two rivers. The channel below the confluence has a maximum capacity of 12,000 cubic feet per second.

Mestas said the county has not seen too many problems on the San Juan River above the confluence, however there have been reports of minor flooding in the West Hammond area and debris on the County Road 5500 bridge.

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Animas River flows have decreased slightly 

A U.S. Geological Survey stream gauge shows flows in the Animas River were nearing 8,000 cubic feet per second on Sunday, June 9, in Farmington. The flows reduced overnight to 7,100 cubic feet per second at the gauge.

A gauge near Aztec registered about 7,500 cubic feet per second on Sunday, June 9. The flow at that gauge reduced to 6,830 cubic feet per second by Monday, June 10.

Mestas said the office of emergency management was receiving calls on Saturday, June 8. from Shiprock about flooding in a park as well as low lying areas. He said he anticipated the Animas River was going to peak on Sunday, June 9, which prompted him to call Behery and request the reduction in flows from Navajo Dam.

“We didn’t know what yesterday was going to bring,” he said on Monday. “And sure enough it came up and gave us problems.”

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

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