New dam offers safer conditions for those on the water

Devin Neeley
March 15, 2017 06:48 PM

FARMINGTON — Before, boaters had to take their boat out of the river at Penny Lane and then put back in below the low head dam. But today, travel down the Animas River is unimpeded, maybe even more fun.


“This is a blast, it’s going to draw people down here to run it,” said Rick Page of the River Reach Foundation.

It is the spot that the City of Farmington pumps water out of the Animas River to fill the reservoir. What's called a "low head dam" made sure there was enough water pooled for the pumps to work.

“The dam that was here before had a very steep drop off, which creates dangerous and uniform hydraulics across the face of the dam, makes it impossibly difficult for a swimmer trapped to get out,” Page said.

Officials said at least a dozen people have died in the water below the old dam, but today the city of Farmington christened the new dam with a raft ride over by the mayor and city manager.

“This is definitely safer. It’s going to save lives and it's fun. The city has done a remarkable job,” Page said.

It cost about $1.2 million to reconstruct the dam.

“So there wouldn't be any more hazards, so you can float the entire length of the Animas River,” said Sherry Roach, project manager from the City of Farmington.

Boaters can get from the state line to Kirtland before they hit another low head dam. And this one has a fish ladder, and two ways over -- one mild and a little wilder.

“Also creating a fun little wave to ride on once you get down to the bottom,” Page said after his trip over the dam.
The city also installed a cableway in case of any rescues. 


Devin Neeley

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