The Plan participants share the Animas/San Juan Watershed and are joining forces to prepare for and monitor the melting of El Niño snowpack throughout the region. Monitoring during the spring runoff period is one of the necessary short-term needs for the multi-state and multi-tribe region that is in direct response to the Gold King Mine release caused by the US Environmental Protection Agency that occurred on August 5, 2015.
“The San Juan and Animas rivers are still contaminated from last year’s toxic waste spill, and we expect it to get worse as the snow melts and the water level rises,” New Mexico Environment Secretary Ryan Flynn said. “Already some of our cities are experiencing the effects. In Farmington, for example, there has been a substantial increase in lead found in the Animas River at times of high flows and turbidity. At those times, the city to draws its drinking water from reserves instead.”
Flynn continued, “By working together with neighboring states and tribes, we will be able to better monitor and respond to increased contamination. This collaboration continues our commitment to ensure that New Mexicans are protected from any long-term effects of the spill.”
“Eight months after the spill, the US Environmental Protection Agency has yet to fully implement their conceptual monitoring plan,” Flynn said. “We are hopeful, however, because we’ve brought the EPA along in our collaborative stakeholder process for the Spring Runoff Preparedness Plan; we are still working to bring them along for our comprehensive and collaborative Long-Term Monitoring Plan which we’ve been executing upon since last September. As the responsible party for the Gold King Mine Spill, EPA should not be attempting to regulate itself; rather they should pay the states and tribes to conduct independent long-term monitoring.”