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Farmington City Council approves water shortage advisory

The flow in the Animas River in Farmington has increased markedly since last week, but local officials are still ...more
The flow in the Animas River in Farmington has increased markedly since last week, but local officials are still implementing various restrictions in light of the drought conditions.
Hannah Grover/The Daily Times

Story highlights

  • The county and city are also considering burn bans.
  • Since the city drafted a plan for dealing with water shortages in times of drought, it has only been used once, in 2002.
  • City Manager Rob Mayes said it is unlikely the city would need to implement either the third or fourth stage of water restrictions unless the drought lasts multiple years.
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Fireworks sale restrictions will go into effect June 1

FARMINGTON — Farmington residents are being asked to conserve water due to drought conditions.

The City Council unanimously approved a water shortage advisory, the first stage of the city's drought management plan, during a special work session today. The advisory asks residents and businesses to voluntarily conserve water. The goal is to reduce water use within the city by 10 percent.

The city is encouraging people to only water lawns from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and to limit washing concrete surfaces. It is also asking restaurants to only serve water when customers request it.

The drought also has prompted the San Juan County Commission to approve a resolution that would restrict the sale of certain fireworks, such as aerial spinners.

That restriction will go into effect on June 8 and lasts 30 days. The county passed the resolution early so that vendors who sell fireworks during the summer will have enough notice about the restriction to adjust their inventory.

No community members provided comment during the public hearing today.

Commission Chairwoman Margaret McDaniel acknowledged that the restriction will be hard for some community members who rely on fireworks sales for income.

"Losing a home or a life is more painful," she said.

The city of Farmington has an ordinance that restricts the sale of certain types of fireworks, primarily aerial fireworks, year round. State law does not allow a complete fireworks ban.

Mayes said the city may pass a resolution later this year to control where fireworks can be set off within the city limits.

The county and the city also will consider adopting bans on agricultural burning.

Since the city drafted a plan for dealing with water shortages in times of drought, it has only been used once. The city implemented the first two stages of the plan in 2002. The second stage features mandatory conservation, such as only watering lawns three times a week.

The plan includes four stages. The final stage prohibits outdoor water use.

Farmington Public Works director David Sypher says the increased flow of water in the Animas River ...more
Farmington Public Works director David Sypher says the increased flow of water in the Animas River is only temporary and likely will not last through the end of June.
Hannah Grover/The Daily Times

City Manager Rob Mayes said it is unlikely the city would need to implement either the third or fourth stage of water restrictions unless the drought lasts multiple years.

“The most important thing in my view is the fact that our lake is 100 percent full,” Public Works director David Sypher told the City Council.

However, the snowpack in the mountains near Silverton, Colorado, is only 18 percent of normal. The snowpack has decreased by about 18 percent since Wednesday as warm weather has melted the snow. Sypher said the melting snow has increased the amount of water in the Animas River.

“If you were looking at the Animas a week ago, you would have been sweating bricks,” Sypher said.

He said the low level was caused by a lack of runoff from low-elevation snowpack.

The runoff from the melting high-elevation snowpack helped fill the river last week.

“We’re within a reasonable flow now, and it makes you breathe a sigh of relief,” Sypher said.

Sypher cautioned that the runoff is temporary and likely will end in the third week of June.

“When this high-elevation snowpack is done ... we’re going to return to a very dry stream bed,” he said.

Mayes said the water shortage advisory likely will be in place until the monsoon storms come in the late summer or early fall.

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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