Aztec approves drainage studies on arroyos

Hannah Grover
The Blanco Arroyo is pictured Tuesday on Creekside Village Court in Aztec. The City Commission has approved funding for three studies that city officials hope will limit flooding in the town.

AZTEC – The City Commission unanimously approved three drainage studies Tuesday night that officials hope will help the two mitigate future flooding.

The three studies will cost the city about $238,000. Because the studies were not included in the budget, the city pulled money from the municipal road fund to pay for two of the studies and from the general fund's streets allocation for the third study.

City Manager Josh Ray said that while the three studies are tied to mitigating floods, they are separate projects. The city was prompted to perform the studies after a flood in August caused more than $1 million in damage. During the storm, arroyos overflowed and spewed debris through neighborhoods. Two areas were hit particularly hard by the flooding — the areas surrounding the Blanco Arroyo and the Kokopelli subdivision.

During subsequent public meetings, residents expressed concern that it was the second time in two years that those properties had been hit by floods. Storms in September 2013 also caused widespread damage.

Mayor Sally Burbridge expressed reservations about pulling money from the road fund to fund the studies. While no current road projects will be affected by the money being used for the drainage studies, she said she was concerned about the projects the city will not be able to afford in the future due to the transfer.

Ray said spring road projects could be affected, and the city is currently working on a plan that will prioritize road improvements. He stressed that the studies are necessary for the city to prevent future flooding.

The studies will identify problem areas along the Hampton and Blanco arroyos, and right-of-way restrictions.

Hampton Arroyo is pictured Tuesday in the Kokopelli subdivision on Anasazi Drive in Aztec. The subdivision suffered flood damage after a storm in August.

Representatives of the company performing the studies will meet with members of the public. There will be two public outreach meetings for the Blanco Arroyo drainage study and three public outreach meetings for the Kokopelli subdivision drainage study.

The commissioners also approved a new head gate for the Animas River diversion project during the meeting Tuesday. The city approved spending a little more than $100,000 on the head gate and will include it in its claim for damages as the result of the Gold King Mine spill. When the Gold King Mine spilled waste into the Animas River in August, the head gate was unable to fully close, which allowed contaminated water to enter the pump house. While none of the contaminated water reached the treatment plant, the city had to clean up the pump house.

"If they don't seal up, they're not effective head gates," Ray said.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.