River update: Peak spring runoff anticipated Saturday for the Animas River
Spring snowmelt, releases from Navajo Dam have created potentially dangerous conditions near two local rivers. Wochit
FARMINGTON — The Animas River will likely continue to flow high and fast through the upcoming days.
San Juan County Floodplain Manager Michele Truby-Tillen said the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Weather Service both project the peak of season runoff on the Animas River will occur June 15.
That means the Animas River will likely be swifter and higher than its been all year on Saturday.
Truby-Tillen said it has been a long time since there was this much water in the river. The abnormally deep snowpack in the mountains followed an extreme drought last year.
According to the USGS, the last time the Animas River had this much water in it was in June 2015 when the gauge at Cedar Hill registered 8,040 cubic feet per second.
A spring storm in June 2015 led to park closures and flooding.
The deep, fast-moving water has officials concerned. In many places, the Animas River has risen over its banks. Both Farmington and Aztec have closed portions of their river trails and officials have cautioned people to stay away from the unstable banks.
The City of Farmington closed Berg Park trails on the north side of the Animas River as well as portions of trail in Boyd Park. It announced on June 13 that the river trail in Westland Park would also be closed while the San Juan River is running high. Westland Park is located on the San Juan River below the confluence with the Animas River.
Truby-Tillen said people should move animals and equipment to higher ground away from the river.
She said people should not play in the river while it is running high.
"Right now is not a good time for river sports," she said.
In Aztec’s Riverside Park, the Animas River has been eroding the bank and is close to undercutting the sidewalk in one area. The city has placed barriers to prevent people from walking on the sidewalk.
Flows in the Animas River at Cedar Hill have been increasing. A gauge measured nearly 7,000 cubic feet per second on the morning of June 13. In a normal year, the flows would be between 2,500 cubic feet per second and 3,000 cubic feet per second in Cedar Hill, according to the USGS data.
Information about the river conditions is available by calling the county hotline at 505-334-7700 and through the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management's Facebook page.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at email@example.com.
This story has been updated to include trail closures in Westland Park.