- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

BLOOMFIELD, N.M. (AP) - A breach in an irrigation ditch has cut off the water supply for a northwestern New Mexico community.

Bloomfield city officials are urging residents to take conservation measures after an 80-foot stretch of bank along the Bloomfield Irrigation Ditch collapsed Monday morning, reported The Daily Times (https://bit.ly/1V7Gyz2).

“It’s hard to tell what happened. It’s just gone,” said Andrew Dean, chairman of the irrigation district’s board. The damage could have been caused by erosion or obstruction, he said.

The ditch fills the city’s reservoir with water from the San Juan River. There is enough water in the reservoir to last up to 15 days, said City Manager Eric Strahl, but repair work could take longer than that. The city has stopped watering its parks and sports fields, he said.

Between 10,000 and 20,000 tons of dirt and rock washed away during the ditch collapse, Dean said. He estimates that rebuilding the bank will take at least two weeks.

The irrigation district will ask the state for emergency funding for the repair work, which could cost more than $100,000, Dean said.

San Juan County has issued a declaration of emergency, which could help the district get funding, said Michele Truby-Tillen of the county’s Emergency Management Office.

The 42-mile ditch runs from Navajo Dam to Bloomfield and is one of the oldest irrigation systems in the country. It was built in 1912 and “there are parts of it that were dug with mules,” Dean said.

Volunteer ditch operators have tried to improve the canal over time, but they have run into funding problems, he said.

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Information from: The Daily Times, https://www.daily-times.com


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