San Juan River

July 4, 2015--Officials plan to curb poop (Durango Herald)

Just months ago, natural-resource specialist Melissa May generated headlines after telling a group of La Plata County residents that science overwhelmingly shows that humans had pooped in the Animas and San Juan Rivers. Her discussion at the Durango Public Library literally was titled, “Who Pooped in the River?” Now, officials are working with local groups to curb t

Quality: Study Finds Human Waste in Rivers

As part of a two-year study of the Animas and San Juan Rivers, the San Juan Watershed Group recently reported findings of elevated levels of bacteria from human waste in the waters. Researchers focused on water quality in New Mexico, except for one point at the Colorado and New Mexico border. The point on the border was studied for only one year, making the sample size smaller. But it is a red flag, especially because the levels of human bacteria dropped at sites tested downstream. “The public should have some concern about the recreational use of these rivers,” said Geoffrey Smith, biologist at New Mexico State University, who worked on the study. However, the bacteria is not found in treated drinking water. The study found bacteria from animals such as cattle and elk in 90 percent of the samples and bacteria from humans in 80 percent of the samples across both rivers. Bacteria from human waste could be coming from leaking septic tanks, people who illegally dump waste, going to the bathroom outside or from wastewater treatment plants. These finds are concerning because bacteria from human waste is more likely to make people sick with viral and bacterial infections than animal bacteria, Smith said. Finding where the bacteria is coming from is the next step in eliminating the pollution.

February 28, 2015--Human waste taints Animas (Durango Herald)

Elevated levels of bacteria from human waste have been found in the Animas River at the Colorado and New Mexico border for the first time. Although E. coli pollution has been a problem in the Animas and San Juan rivers in New Mexico for years, this study also revealed a different kind of bacteria found in human feces. “It’s not a result we had hoped to see. ...

December 29, 2014--San Juan water dries up for first time in 40 years (Albuquerque Journal)

The San Juan-Chama Project, which delivers water from the mountains of southwest Colorado to central New Mexico, had the first shortfall this year in its four-decade history after three consecutive years of bad snowpack.

November 23, 2014--Record drought reveals stunning changes along Colorado River (National Geographic)

In early September, at the abandoned Piute Farms marina on a remote edge of southern Utah's Navajo reservation, we watched a ten-foot (three-meter) waterfall plunging off what used to be the end of the San Juan River. Until 1990, this point marked the smooth confluence of the river with Lake Powell, one of the largest reservoirs in the U.S.

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.

June 5, 2014--Snowpack in Southwest Colorado all but gone (Durango Herald)

The snowpack in the watershed emptied by the Animas, San Juan, Dolores and San Miguel rivers is fading fast, the last report of the year by the Natural Resources Conservation Service shows. The only basin with less snowpack than the four-river watershed as of June 1 was the Upper Rio Grande.

May 15, 2014--Three legislators challenge Navajo Water Rights Settlement (Daily Times)

Three legislators and an official with an agency that represents San Juan River irrigation ditches are asking New Mexico's highest court to cancel the Navajo Water Rights Settlement because they say its approval violated the state constitution. "There was no Legislature involvement," said Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec.

May 10, 2014--Snowpack suffering in Southwest Colorado (Durango Herald)

The snowpack as of May 1 in the watersheds drained by the Animas, San Juan, Dolores and San Miguel rivers leaves the southwest corner of Colorado hurting. At 68 percent of its 30-year median, the amount of snow in the high country foretells a sparse runoff. Only the Rio Grande basin is worse off at 50 percent.

April 8, 2014--San Juan Watershed Group study identifies human waste as likely contaminant in Animas, San Juan, La Plata rivers (Four Corners News)

Preliminary results from an environmental study indicate septic waste may be seeping from sewage systems or being illegally dumped into the Animas and San Juan rivers. "It is startling. It is unexpected," said David Tomko, San Juan Watershed Group coordinator. "But let's see if there's another explanation." The environmental group — an offshoot of the U.S.

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