#AnimasRiver: Gold King mine spill reaches Utah


From the Farmington Daily-Times:

Evan O’Keefe, supervisor with the San Juan County Geographical Information Systems department, estimated this morning that the plume, which is now in the San Juan River, is about three hours south of Aneth, Utah.

He said the speed of its travel depends on factors like topography. He also noted that, at this point, the front part of the plume is not as noticeable.

“It’s not like it was when coming down the Animas River,” O’Keefe said.

The plume of toxic waste passed through San Juan County on Saturday. From Silverton, it traveled along the Animas River and flowed into the San Juan River at the confluence in Farmington.

It is continuing west in the San Juan, which is a tributary that feeds into the Colorado River.

The New Mexico Environment Department is also offering free water testing for residents affected by the spill. The department will provide free water testing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office substation in Lee Acres, 21 County Road 5500 in Farmington.

A spokeswoman for the department said those hours may be extended if the demand for water testing continues. One scientist involved in the testing said a line of people were waiting at 8 a.m. today to get their water tested.

To get their water tested, residents need to bring 16 to 32 ounces of water in a clean container.

One rural water user association in the county has spent thousands of dollars buying water from Farmington and Aztec because it had to shut down its wells after the toxic mine waste spilled into the Animas last week.

“We don’t want to take a chance of contaminating them — and it sure has cost us a lot of money,” said Rick Mitchell, Flora Vista Mutual Domestic Water Association general manager.

Mitchell said he has spent about $7,000 buying water from Farmington and Aztec for the system’s users. The association maintains a series of wells along the Animas River. It supplies all of its water from those wells, expect during peak demand in the summer when it buys water from nearby cities.

The association serves about 5,000 people, Mitchell said.

City of Bloomfield officials said they have received calls from concerned residents about the quality of the city’s water…

Bloomfield pulls its water from the San Juan River, and the city’s water supply has not been affected by the mine spill, said Jason Thomas, the city engineer and public works director, in a press release. He said the city’s water is safe to drink and to use on gardens and for animals.

But Thomas also notes that “if our neighbors need to share our water supply, we will need to begin water conservation measures to prolong the supply.”

Officials have set up several potable water stations throughout the county for residents and RV and livestock owners to use.

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