NMSU to provide water for livestock owners

Officials with the NMSU extension office say the emergency delivery service will take pressure off Bloomfield's water supply

Brett Berntsen
Irrigation water flows into an eroded section of the Bloomfield Irrigation Ditch off County Road 4655 in Blanco on Monday.
  • NMSU will help livestock owners who rely on the Bloomfield Irrigation Ditch Secure water for animals.
  • After breaching Monday, the ditch is expected to be closed for two weeks as crews work on repairs.
  • The breach happened right as crops are starting to take root and many young animals still nursing.
  • Officials say the cost of the repair work has exceeded $200,000.

FARMINGTON — The New Mexico State University Extension office has announced it will coordinate emergency water deliveries for livestock owners reliant on the Bloomfield Irrigation District Ditch, which was shut down Monday after a large section of its bank collapsed.

Livestock owners who do not have access to the San Juan River can sign up to have water trucked onto their property, Bonnie Hopkins, NMSU Agriculture Extension Agent said.

The ditch, which supplies water to numerous farmers and ranchers, as well as the city of Bloomfield, is expected to be closed for about two weeks.

Hopkins said the breach comes at a tough time for the agricultural industry, with crops starting to take root and many young animals still nursing. She said a 1,000-pound animal requires up to 100 gallons of water on a hot day, and even more if it's lactating. The emergency delivery service will take some pressure off Bloomfield's water supply, Hopkins said.

Cost estimates on repair work to the ditch have risen to more than $200,000, according to Michelle Truby-Tillen, floodplain manager at the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management.

"It’s a pretty huge whole in the ground," she said.

She said workers have started efforts to rebuild the bank. Construction will include adding clay to the ground as a stabilizing agent.

At left, Harold Chamberlin, a ditch rider with the Bloomfield Irrigation District, works with district foreman Mike Meidinger as he operates a backhoe while making a temporary road, Monday during repairs for the Bloomfield Irrigation Ditch off County Road 4655 in Blanco.

County officials met with a state disaster assessor today, as part of a bid to seek emergency management funding for the irrigation district.

She said Bloomfield has enough water in its reservoir to fulfill demand in the near future, as long as residents continue conservation methods. Residents have been advised to refrain from watering their lawns or gardens, as well as other outdoor uses.

She said Bloomfield has begun piping water into its reservoir from Aztec, as part of an agreement between the two cities. The system, however, can only provide 50 percent of Bloomfield's water requirements.

Livestock owners in need of a water delivery can call the San Juan County Extension office at 505-334-9496. The office has asked callers to have the following information available: number of head of livestock, estimated water needs, a physical address, name and phone number.

For more information on the ditch closure, call the Bloomfield Irrigation District at 505-632-2800, or go to bloomfieldirrigationdistrict.com.

Brett Berntsen covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606.