Bloomfield test wells fail to find viable sources of drinking water

Mayor: Bloomfield has not given up on finding a second source

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Vereda Del Rio San Juan River Trail Park in Bloomfield has been reopened after being closed for much of July while city officials drilled test wells for a secondary source of water.
  • The river park in Bloomfield has reopened.
  • Bloomfield gets all of its water through a 100-year-old earthen ditch.

FARMINGTON — Bloomfield has finished its explorations along the San Juan River in search of a secondary drinking water source. 

The city shut down its river park at the beginning of July to drill several test wells. The project was paid for using state capital outlay money. The park has since been reopened. A Facebook post on the city's page on July 20 alerted residents that the park had been reopened.

City Manager Eric Strahl said the tests did not find viable secondary drinking water sources. The city had hoped the aquifer beneath the San Juan River could produce quality water for residents.

More:Bloomfield testing aquifer as possible secondary water source

Strahl said there was not enough gravel beneath the river to create a good filter for the water.

"It didn't turn out the way we wanted it to," Mayor Scott Eckstein said. 

Bloomfield gets all of its water through a 100-year-old earthen ditch. The ditch, the Bloomfield Irrigation District ditch, has experienced several breaches over the years that have left the city's water supply at risk. The city reservoir can hold about two weeks worth of water.

A pipeline connecting Bloomfield to Aztec can supplement the usage but it cannot provide all the water residents need. When the irrigation ditch was breached last year, Bloomfield turned to Aztec for supplementary water. The pipeline also allowed Aztec to get water from Bloomfield when it closed the head gates to its reservoirs during the Gold King Mine spill in August 2015.

More:Bloomfield OK's capital outlay funding requests

The city does have one other source of water, although it is not used. A diversion takes water from the San Juan River to a small reservoir. But because the reservoir is located below Largo Wash, the largest dry wash in the country, its water can be plagued with high turbidity during runoff. Following storms, large amounts of sediment enter the small reservoir.

Strahl said the city may try to find other locations to drill test wells or it could choose to try to fix the small reservoir below Largo Wash.

While the city has not decided its next step, it is still hopeful about finding a good secondary water source.

"That doesn't mean we're giving up," Eckstein said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.