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Flooding, wildfire, drought and hazardous materials are identified as risks in draft plan

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

AZTEC — San Juan County is seeking input on a draft hazard mitigation plan.

The plan will be submitted to the state of New Mexico and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. While San Juan County took the lead on creating the plan, it encompasses both the municipalities and the unincorporated areas. The municipalities partnered with the county to draft it.

The last plan was created in 2014, and the county received grant funding in 2018 to update it. Plans must be updated every five years under the Federal Disaster Mitigation Act.

The Animas River is pictured in 2018 in Farmington. Drought is one of the potential disasters identified in the hazard mitigation plan.

“Hazard mitigation planning is the foundation of San Juan County’s emergency management program,” said Michele Truby-Tillen, floodplain manager for San Juan County, in a press release. “The project helps us to understand and minimize hazards with the greatest potential impacts on our communities, while opening needed funding sources.”

The plan identifies four types of disasters that are most common in the area. These include flooding or flash flooding, wildfires, drought and incidents involving hazardous materials. All four have occurred multiple times in the past seven years.

Flood waters damaged homes in 2016 in the Salt Wash area north of Shiprock.

In addition to outlining the possible risks, it includes various mitigation factors to reduce the possibility of damage.

Many of those mitigation projects that are included in the draft 2020 plan were also in the 2014 plan, including creating a bypass to reroute trucks carrying hazardous materials away from highly populated areas.

However, the 2020 plan also includes new projects like the proposed Scott Reservoir, which would increase municipal water storage for the City of Bloomfield while also providing a new recreation asset in the community.

An oil field fire is seen burning, Tuesday, July 12, 2016 off U.S. Highway 550 in Nageezi.

Another new project in the 2020 plan came from the Town of Kirtland, which incorporated in 2015. The 2020 plan calls for projects to reduce the flooding on U.S. Highway 64.

Comments on the draft plan should be submitted by Aug. 7 and can be submitted at www.sjcounty.net/HMPFeedback. The draft plan can also be viewed at that URL.

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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