Water Commission to finish allocation plan

Dan Schwartz
A diversion dam on the Animas River as seen Wednesday at the Penny Lane Landing area in Flora Vista.

FARMINGTON — The San Juan Water Commission agreed Wednesday to host a meeting months from now to hammer out details in a plan that will determine how to distribute thousands of acre feet of water to its members.

The commission oversees water rights for Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield, San Juan County and the San Juan County Rural Water Users Association. Since 2002, the commission has been working on drafts of a plan to allocate the water.

But commissioners decided to begin discussions on how to finish the plan in January. They did not take any other action on the plan Wednesday.

“We're just getting started,” water commission Chairman Keith Johns said.

Johns, chairman of the San Juan County Commission and the county's representative on the water commission, said the document is important and commissioners want to consider all their members’ interests before they complete it.

The plan will determine how the commission splits three caches of water among its members, said Aaron Chavez, the commission’s acting executive director.

The Animas River flows near County Road 350 on Wednesday in Flora Vista.

Nearly 3,380 acre feet of water would come from excess water rights in the Animas-La Plata Project, which is stored in Lake Nighthorse southwest of Durango, Colo., Chavez said. He said the plan would divvy up another 6,300 acre feet from other sources. And the plan would also determine how to distribute water rights the commission hasn’t yet acquired, he said.

Officials say they are gathering information to prepare for the meeting to discuss the plan. Farmington City Attorney Jennifer Breakell said her city’s main concern is how the commission allocates the excess Animas-La Plata Project water rights, which have been the subject of numerous agreements over the years.

“That is the main issue that is pending for everybody,” she said.

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