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County places Totah Subdivision as top project on Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Sewage overflows from a septic tank, Thursday, July 9, 2015, on a property in the Totah Subdivision south of Farmington.

AZTEC — For years county officials have known that the wells providing water to homes in a small subdivision tucked between south Farmington and the San Juan River could potentially be contaminated by septic tanks.

Water and wastewater infrastructure for the Totah Subdivision was moved to the top priority on the San Juan County Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan. This plan is submitted to the state on an annual basis and helps when the county applies for certain types of funding, such as capital outlay.

The County Commission approved the projects for the ICIP during an Aug. 18 meeting that can be viewed on YouTube.

The previous top-ranked project, waterlines to the East Culpepper subdivision, received funding through the capital outlay process. The East Culpepper subdivision has been hauling water to a storage tank on a regular basis because no infrastructure exists to get drinking water into the subdivision.

Sprinklers water the lawn in August 2015 in the Totah subdivision.

In 2015, the county received $100,000 from the state to study the wells and septic systems in the Totah Subdivision. That money allowed the county to hire the engineering firm Bohannon Houston Inc. to perform a preliminary engineering study. This study recommended extending Farmington’s water and wastewater system into the subdivision.

When the results were presented to residents in 2016, representatives from the engineering firm Bohannon Houston Inc. told them that the high groundwater levels and poor soil drainage makes it more likely for septic tanks to contaminate well water.

Kirsty Bramlett, an engineer with Bohannan Huston, Inc., talks about plans to address water quality concerns in the Totah subdivision, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016 at the Sycamore Park Community Center in Farmington.

Connecting the subdivision to Farmington’s wastewater system would cost $3.8 million and connecting to the water lines would cost $2.5 million, according to estimates in the 2016 study.

The ICIP list states a total project cost of $5.98 million for the Totah Subdivision water and wastewater. The county generally submits the top ranked projects on its ICIP list to legislators as capital outlay requests.

Other projects on the ICIP list include radio infrastructure upgrades and replacements, an alternatives study for Five Mile Bridge located in Largo Canyon near Blanco, property acquisition and right of way for a portion of the Pinon Hills Boulevard extension project and improvements at county facilities to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Those projects are ranked in the top five and range in price from $150,000 for the bridge alternatives study to $2 million for the radio infrastructure upgrades and replacement.

A sign posted July 22, 2015, informs residents at the Totah subdivision about free water testing. The area has had problems with water quality.

The list also includes improvements to county roads, improvements to the Cedar Hill pedestrian bridge, replacing fire apparatus, replacing the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, improving the Lower Valley and Blanco senior centers and purchasing vehicles for them, and renovations at the San Juan Regional Medical Center endoscopy unit.

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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