US Army Corps of Engineers
Albuquerque District Website


Published June 8, 2016

                                                                   JOINT PUBLIC NOTICE

Application Number:  SPA-2012-00546

Date:  June 8, 2016

Comments Due: July 8, 2016

SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District, (Corps) and the New Mexico Environment Department’s Surface Water Quality Bureau (SWQB) are evaluating a permit application for the City of Aztec Animas River Diversion, located in Aztec, San Juan County NM, which would result in impacts to approximately 0.8 acres of waters of the United States, specifically, the Animas River.  This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments. 

AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States (U.S.).  State water quality certification is provided under the authority of 20.6.2 NMAC. 

APPLICANT:         City of Aztec

                              ATTN: William Watson

                              610 Western Drive

                              Aztec, New Mexico 87410

AGENT:                Ecosphere Environmental Services

                              ATTN: Sandy Friedley

                              776 E. 2nd Avenue

                              Durango, Colorado 81301                             

LOCATION: The project site is located on or near the Animas River, Section 4, Township 30 North, Range 11 West, Latitude 36.838, Longitude -107.992°, San JuanCounty, New Mexico

As currently configured, the hydraulics of the river/ pump station system do not function adequately in most winters during low flow if the berm is not maintained. The City of Aztec utilizes the Animas River Diversion as a water source continuously throughout the year. The berm currently creates a backwater that allows water from the river to flow into the diversion channel and to the pump station. Without the berm, river water cannot be diverted to the channel where the City pumps water to the water treatment plant.

Work is anticipated to commence in the winter of 2017 and be completed within 3 months. 

Specific Project components are described as follows:

  1. Bank Reshaping The existing river bank will be graded to a 2:1 slope from Station 10+00 to Station 14+64 (See Attachment, Figures 5 thru 8) .

  2. Wire-tied Rip Rap Bank Protection Eighteen-inch-thick rip rap tied with wire will be placed on medium weight geotextile fabric along the west-facing river bank to provide bank protection above and below the inlet. The rip rap (8-inch median size rock) will be stabilized with 4-foot long by 4-inch by 4-inch angle iron placed on 6-foot centers on a 2:1 slope approximately 15 feet wide (See Attachment, Figure 3).

Thalweg Restoration Existing river rock cobble will be graded from Station 14+61 to 10+00 to establish a thalweg within a 60-foot wide channel. The thalweg will be re-established approximately 200 feet above and below the intake. No new materials will be utilized to create the designed river profile.  All materials from the existing unstable earthen diversion structure would be moved to the southern extent of the existing island (See Attachment, Figure 3). 

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The applicant proposes to construct a permanent, stable river channel to meet the City’s daily potable water demands. This Project will provide a permanent alternative to reconstructing the Animas River diversion berm every year.

Within the OHWM, native material would be used for cut and fill associated with the bank reshaping and thalweg restoration. The wire-tied rip rap blankets used to stabilize the river bank upstream and downstream of the intake will require 600 cubic yards of 8-inch rock placed on medium weight geotextile fabric. All rock material and equipment would be staged outside the Ordinary High Water Mark (OHWM) above the diversion channel. Proposed construction access will be from along the existing road above the east bank of the Animas.

The proposed Project would not result in any increased depletions from the Animas River. The City’s existing water rights allow for withdrawal of surface water from the Animas River resources. 

PROPOSED MITIGATIONTo avoid or minimize impacts, including the potential for sedimentation and hazardous materials, construction of the proposed Project will adhere to the terms and conditions of the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 404 permit and Section 401water quality certification and will employ Best Management Practices (BMPs). These measures include, but are not limited to:

  • The contractor will be required to confine his work within the construction limits to preserve existing vegetation and private property. Proposed construction access will be from along the existing road above the east bank of the Animas.

  • Erosion control measures for all portions of the Project area that drain into or would have runoff toward the river must be properly selected, installed, inspected, repaired, and maintained. Erosion and sediment control structures (e.g., silt fences, sediment basins, etc.) will be inspected after significant storm events and repaired, as necessary. Sediment will be removed from erosion control structures when the sediment reaches half the height of the structure or wet storage volume is reduced by half.

  • Fuel, oil, hydraulic fluid, lubricants, and other petrochemicals will not be stored within 200 feet of the river and will have a secondary containment system to prevent spills. Appropriate spill clean- up materials such as booms and absorbent pads will be available on-site at all times during construction.

  • All heavy equipment used in the Project area will be pressure washed and/or steam cleaned before the start of the Project and inspected daily for leaks. A written log of inspections and maintenance will be completed. Leaking equipment will not be used in or near surface water. All refueling operations will be at least 200 feet from the OHWM.

  • Coffer dams would be placed as identified in Phases 2 and 3 of Sheet 6 in Attachment E. Phase 2 is for erosion protection during the installation of new rip rap bank protection. Phase 3 illustrates cofferdam setup during the relocation of the existing push up dam.

  • The NMED has indicated that pumping water from one side of a coffer dam, for dewatering that side, to the other side (into the Animas River) does not warrant a discharge permit. 


Environmental Setting. The Animas River rises high in San Juan Mountains of Colorado at the confluence of the West and North forks at the ghost town of Animas Forks and flows south past the ghost towns of Eureka and Howardsville. At Silverton, the river flows into the Animas Canyon. From Durango the river flows south into New Mexico through the town of Aztec to its confluence with the San Juan River at Farmington. The only major tributary of the Animas River is the Florida River which confluences just north of the Colorado–New Mexico border.  There are no wetlands within the project area.  There are approximately 0.8 acres of waters of the U.S. below the OHWM within the proposed project area that will be permanently and temporarily impacted. 

EVALUATION FACTORS: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the described activity on the public interest.  That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources.  The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the described activity, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments.  All factors which may be relevant to the described activity will be considered, including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people.  The activity's impact on the public interest will include application of the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (40 CFR Part 230). 

HISTORIC PROPERTIES:  The Corps consulted district files and records, the latest version of the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), and state records of NRHP-eligible and potentially eligible historic properties to determine if there are any historic properties that may be affected by the proposed undertaking.  In addition, the project area has been recently surveyed for historic properties and none were identified (New Mexico Cultural Resource Information System Activity Number 122863). The State Historic Preservation Officer concurred with a determination of no historic properties affected by this proposed project on February 21, 2012.

ENDANGERED SPECIES: The Corps has reviewed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's latest published version of Federally-listed     endangered and threatened species located in San Juan County, New Mexico to determine if any listed species or their critical habitat may occur in the proposed project area.  The Corps has made a preliminary determination that the proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat.  The Corps has initiated consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, as appropriate.

FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT:  The Corps is sending a copy of this public notice to the local floodplain administrator.  In accordance with 44 CFR part 60 (Flood Plain Management Regulations Criteria for Land Management and Use), the floodplain administrators of participating communities are required to review all proposed development to determine if a floodplain development permit is required and maintain records of such review.

COMMENT SUBMITTAL AND DEADLINES:  The Corps and SWQB are soliciting comments from the public, Federal, State, and local agencies and officials, Indian tribes, and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity.  Any comments received will be considered to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal.  To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and other public interest factors listed above.  Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.

            Chris Wrbas, Project Manager

                        US Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District

                        4101 Jefferson Plaza NE

                        Albuquerque, NM 87109-3435


                        FAX 505-344-1514


Submittal of Water Quality Certification Comments: Section 401 requires that any applicant for an individual Section 404 permit provide proof of water quality certification to the Corps of Engineers prior to permit issuance. For the above described project, the applicant is required to obtain water quality certification, under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, from the New Mexico Environment Department SWQB. 

This notice serves to notify the public that the SWQB will consider issuing a certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.  The purpose of such certification is to reasonably ensure that the permitted activities will be conducted in a manner compliant with applicable New Mexico water quality standards, including the antidegradation policy, and the statewide water quality management plan.  This Notice, including notice of the 30-day public comment period, is also posted on the SWQB website at 

SWQB will accept and consider written comments regarding the state certification received during the public comment period.  Comments may be submitted electronically or by hard copy to:   

            Neal Schaeffer

                        New Mexico Environment Department SWQB

                        P.O. Box 5469

                        Santa Fe, NM 87502-5469


                        FAX 505-827-0160


Please note that names and addresses of those who submit comments in response to this public notice may be made publicly available through the Freedom of Information Act, the New Mexico Inspection of Public Records Act, or both.  

                                                                        DISTRICT ENGINEER

                                                                        ALBUQUERQUE DISTRICT

                                                                        CORPS OF ENGINEERS 


                                                                        BUREAU CHIEF

                                                                        SURFACE WATER QUALITY BUREAU

                                                                        NEW MEXICO ENVIRONMENT DEPT