Voluntary water conservation measure remains in place

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FARMINGTON — The Farmington City Council lifted mandatory water restrictions Tuesday night during a meeting at City Hall.

Residents are still being asked to voluntarily conserve water, but the mandatory water restrictions that were put in place in June have been lifted.

The council's decision came as recent storms improved drought conditions and brought snowpack to the mountains near Silverton, Colorado.

Public works director David Sypher said there are four criteria that the city uses to determine whether water restrictions are necessary. Those include the Palmer drought index, the level of water in Farmington Lake, the flow in the Animas River and the depth of the snowpack near Silverton.

The recent storms have improved the drought rating on the Palmer index from extreme to moderate, and Farmington Lake is currently about 98 percent full, according to Sypher. He said the snow-water equivalent — how much water would be there if the snow was melted — is at 2.5 inches near Silverton. Sypher said that is above normal for this time of year, when the mountains usually have about half an inch of snow-water equivalent.

However, the flow in the Animas River is only about 50 percent of normal.

Despite the improving conditions, Sypher warned that the area could see dry conditions returning.

“If things were to turn around today and then we didn’t have any snowfall for two months, we would be in an extreme situation,” Sypher said.

The city is moving from stage two of its drought-management plan — mandatory restrictions — to stage one of the plan, which is a water-shortage advisory.

If conditions continue to improve, the city manager will lift the advisory.

“I don’t think we’re out of the weeds yet,” Mayor Nate Duckett said.

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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