Fri Aug 31st, 2018
Tags: Animas River, Cement Creek, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), Durango, Gold King Mine, Gold King Mine Spill, San Juan Basin Public Health, San Juan County, Silverton, SJBH, United States Geological Survey (USGS)
August 2018 marks the three-year anniversary of the Gold King Mine spill that sent three hundred gallons of mine wastewater into the Animas River system. Starting the day after the spill, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in collaboration with San Juan Basin Public Health (SJBPH), the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and San Juan County have run a three-year study of water quality and sediment between Silverton and Durango.
The study analyzed close to 200 river water samples, almost 200 sediment samples, and over 100 private well samples for 13 different heavy metals and other possible contaminants of concern. Analysis indicates that since the spill:
The study is also the first in Colorado to utilize multiple real-time data sensors installed in a river. These sensors produce over 10,000 data points a week on the health of the Animas River system. Since the spill, these sensors have automatically triggered verification sampling of elevated readings on two occasions.
Further investigation revealed that these readings were produced by the collapse of an ice dam and a major storm event, both in Cement Creek, which released additional water with high amounts of metals into the river system. This study is the first of its kind to track these brief fluctuations in water quality to specific events and gives scientists and the community an improved understanding of how the Animas River system functions.
A slideshow summary of the data is available to download at: https://bit.ly/2BGabWy
The full sampling data set is available via the national Water Quality Portal at:
https://bit.ly/2wajSY6 Real-time data will continue to be collected through at least 2020 at five sites between Silverton and Durango. Those data are available here:
San Juan Basin Public Health is a local public health agency, governed by a seven-member local Board of Health, serving all residents of Archuleta and La Plata counties. For 70 years, San Juan Basin Public Health has improved the health and environment of Southwest Colorado.