Animas River

August 9, 2015--Animas River: La Plata and Durango declare state of emergency (Durango Herald)

Three million gallons of water containing mining waste has poured into the Animas River since Wednesday, and it is still unclear what the environmental and health impact of the spill, caused by the Environmental Protection Agency, will be.


August 8, 2015--Can life survive in the Animas River? (Durango Herald)

As about 1 million gallons of toxic sludge makes its way from Gold King Mine down the Animas River, scientists, politicians and Durango residents are bracing for the environmental fallout. At a public meeting Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency said initial testing indicates the water contains levels of cadmium, lead, aluminum, copper and arsenic too high for safe drinking water.


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


Animas River Water Quality

As reported in an early June Durango Herald article, about 20 concerned people gathered at the Durango Public Library to hear one woman’s answer to an effortlessly gripping question: “Who pooped in the river?” According to Melissa May, a natural resource specialist for San Juan Soil and Water Conservation District, who analyzed microbial source tracking results for the Animas River in Colorado and New Mexico--the answer is, in short, humans pooped in it.


June 29, 2015--EPA to plug Silverton mine soon (Durango Herald)

Mine remediation and greater monitoring above Silverton this summer will help ease the level of poisonous metals in the Animas River, at least at first. At the Red and Bonita Mine, where polluted water is pouring out at 500 gallons per minute, Environmental Protection Agency workers would like to put a stop to the flow by September, said Steven Way, on-scene coordinator for the agency.&nbs


June 12, 2015--Our river has runneth over (Durango Herald)

Emergency management scrambled Thursday to prepare communities downstream from Vallecito Reservoir for more flooding as a succession of unseasonably severe storms battered Southwest Colorado, causing the already-turgid Animas River to swell – in some places – dangerously above its banks. All day Thursday, the effects of two storms, and ensuing flooding, wracked communities alon


June 11, 2015--Flood warning issued for Durango (Durango Herald)

An isolated storm delivered a mixture of rain, hail and lighting shortly after noon on Thursday, briefly knocking out power in some places and contributing to the swell of the Animas River. A flash-flood warning was issued for the Durango area until 3:30 p.m.


June 5, 2015--‘Who pooped in the river?’ (Durango Herald)

On Thursday night, about 20 concerned people gathered at Durango Public Library to hear one woman’s answer to an effortlessly gripping question: “Who pooped in the river?” According to Melissa May – a natural resource specialist for San Juan Soil and Water Conservation District who analyzed microbial source tracking results for the Animas River in Colorado and New


April 28, 2015--Fish in the Animas aren’t going hungry (Durango Herald)

There are fewer fish locally in the Animas River than there used to be, but the populations are not likely wanting for food.  A study of bugs, specifically macroinvertebrates, recently completed found a wide variety of species, including many that are sensitive to pollution, said Scott Roberts, an aquatic biologist with Ecosphere Environmental Services.


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.


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