Navajo Nation Cautions Water Users along the Animas and San Juan Rivers

San Juan River polluted as result of drainage from the Gold King Mine.

Published March 16, 2019

WINDOW ROCK — Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez is urging water users along the Animas and San Juan Rivers to be cautious due to the recent failure of the Gladstone wastewater treatment facility in Colorado, which is used to treat drainage from the Gold King Mine. On Saturday, the U.S. EPA reported that work crews were able to restore power at the facility and that the facility is now operating normally.

According to reports, the failure of the treatment facility was due to heavy snowfall that lead to a power outage on Thursday. Since then, the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency has been coordinating with the U.S. EPA and Utah Division of Water Quality to assess any potential dangers to water users.

“Although initial reports indicate that there is no immediate threat to water users in Navajo communities along the San Juan River, we encourage our people to be cautious and to stay alert until we are fully assured that the water is safe for the long-term,” stated President Nez. “Our divisions and departments will remain on alert and continue to closely monitor the situation and provide information to the public.”

The Navajo Water Management Branch reported that no irrigation systems along the San Juan River are currently in use and that water intake systems will not be opened until the quality and safety of the water is assessed and there is complete assurance of the safety of the water. The Navajo Nation EPA will be collecting and testing water samples to ensure the safety of water.

On Saturday, a conference call was held between various Executive Branch agencies and members of the 24th Navajo Nation Council to provide updates on the status of the situation.

“I appreciate the immediate response by Navajo Nation, state, and federal partners. At this time, it is important to note that Navajo, federal, and state experts do not anticipate a threat to communities along the San Juan River or Navajo farmers and ranchers. The Council will work with the appropriate water and environmental authorities to monitor water and sediment levels,” stated Speaker of the 24th Navajo Nation Council Seth Damon.

The Navajo Nation will continue monitoring the situation and informing the public through radio announcements and other media outlets.

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