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Farmington residents urged to conserve water during ongoing drought conditions

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The Animas River, which has been running a 7 % of its normal flow, is pictured, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Farmington.

AZTEC — Farmington residents are being asked to voluntarily cut back on their water usage by 10% amid ongoing drought conditions.

The Farmington City Council approved a resolution enacting a stage one water shortage advisory on a 3-0 vote. The meeting was broadcast on Zoom and a recording will be available online at fmtn.org/AgendaCenter.

Community Works Director David Sypher said the city has struggled to keep Lake Farmington full.

“We are taking keeping our lake 100% full a little more seriously than we have in the past,” he said, explaining that the city not only provides water to its residents but also delivers water to other water systems.

Previous coverage:  Drought could lead Farmington to issue water shortage advisory

Lake Farmington was approximately 98% full on Sept. 3, but has been dropping at a rate of 0.15 to 0.3% daily and, as of the meeting on Sept. 8, Sypher said the lake was 97.15% full.

A storm brought precipitation to the region as the City Council discussed the water shortage advisory, but Sypher said current forecasts are calling for 30 to 50% of normal precipitation in the upcoming months and the most liberal projections are anticipating moderate drought.

Canada geese take flight, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, from the Animas River in Farmington.

Meanwhile, the flow in the Animas River has remained consistently low — about 7% of normal for this time of year. Sypher said the Office of the State Engineer has been considering ditch rotations.

A stream gauge reading from approximately 5:30 p.m. Sept. 8 near the confluence of the Animas and San Juan rivers read 24.9 cubic feet per second, or approximately 7% of normal. Data from the stream gauges can be found on the U.S. Geological Survey’s water watch website. Higher upstream near Cedar Hill, the gauge read 154 cubic feet per second, which is about 31% of average flow.

The ditches will continue running through mid to late October.

Sypher said if there is not much precipitation after that point, “we’re headed down a path we don’t want to head down.”

He described the water shortage advisory as a no-lose situation. If the precipitation does come, the city can lift the advisory. Stage one does not have any fines or penalties in place if residents choose not to comply.

“It is my hope and prayer that stage one is where this ends,” he said.

Canada geese swim in the Animas River, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Farmington.

The last time the city enacted a stage one water shortage advisory was in 2018. At that time, the council approved the advisory in May, which was later increased to a stage two requiring mandatory conservation.

Mayor Nate Duckett read a few tips for conserving water, such as irrigating in the morning and not watering lawns when it is windy.

He reminded residents that a fire ban is still in place in the City of Farmington.

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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