October 29, 2014--New river water samples to be tested for human waste (Daily Times)

A local environmental group this week finished collecting samples as part of a long-term study that already suggests septic waste may be seeping from sewage systems or being dumped from San Juan County into the San Juan and Animas rivers. The two-year study includes samples collected from five sites along the two rivers in and just outside the county. The samples are tested for the two bacteria that indicate the presence of human and animal waste, E. coli and Bacteroides. Initial tests for E. coli from a sampling site across the Colorado state line met that state's and New Mexico's water standards, which means the bacteria originates downstream, in San Juan County, the study found. Probes at the five sites tested for the presence of waste from several species, including humans. All 40 of the first samples collected at one site west of Waterflow tested positive for human bacteria found in feces, nearly all 40 samples collected in Farmington also tested positive and 26 out of 40 samples collected in Aztec were positive, according to the study. The samples collected Monday need to be analyzed, and the first year's worth of results are currently being verified in a second laboratory, said Melissa May, San Juan Soil and Water Conservation District natural resource specialist and project coordinator. She said her colleagues are using a new method to test the rivers, and they need to be careful. But the study's preliminary results indicate that septic tanks could be leaking and/or companies are illegally dumping waste into the rivers, she said.

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