The Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Navajo Nation and the states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, today announced their Animas and San Juan Spring Runoff Preparedness Plan. 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-tribe & multi-state region that is in direct response to the Gold King Mine release that occurred on August 5, 2015.
Clement J. Frost, Southern Ute Indian Tribal Chairman, explains “The Southern Ute Indian Tribe places great value on the health of Tribal Waters for our culture, people, land, and our wildlife. The Tribe also recognizes the impacts to Tribal waters from upstream communities, and endeavors to be good neighbors to our downstream users. For the benefit of the Tribe, and for all of us connected to the Animas and San Juan Rivers, the Tribe supports a collaborative approach to understanding the impacts from the Gold King Mine release.”
The Tribe is working diligently to understand potential impacts from the Gold King sediment residue that settled out following the release. To meet this objective, the Tribe is actively monitoring the Animas that flows through the Reservation. The Tribe’s Water Quality Program is collecting weekly water quality samples and has deployed continuous reading instruments to track pH and conductivity, which are two measurements that can identify impacts from mine drainage. In addition, the Tribe is investigating bioaccumulation with stream insect and fish tissue studies that will be compared to pre-release data. The Tribe continues to share data and collaborate with all impacted parties throughout the region.
The Preparedness plan is found at www.southernute-nsn.gov/environmental-programs/water-quality/.
For more information about the Plan, and for Tribal Gold King release monitoring and assessment information, contact Southern Ute Tribe Water Quality Program Manager, Curtis Hartenstine at (970) 563-0135.