DURANGO, Colo. (AP) _ The latest in the Colorado mine spill (all times local):
Utah officials say that contaminated water from a mine spill has likely reached Lake Powell, but the plume is no longer visible and authorities haven’t confirmed the presence of heavy metals in the waters of the reservoir.
Utah Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Donna Spangler says that water-speed calculations and hydrology research show the plume having reached the reservoir 300 miles from the site of the spill in Colorado.
The plume lost its bright yellow color before entering Utah early this week, and state officials say their tests taken Monday suggest the water from the Utah portion of the San Juan River is safe to drink.
The Colorado River that supplies water to the Southwest flows from Lake Powell.
Truckloads of drinking water are headed to the Navajo Nation where a mine spill upstream of the San Juan River has residents worried about contamination.
St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance is donating 200,000 bottles of water to Navajo communities. The shipment is expected to arrive Friday.
Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates says the donations will help alleviate stress in finding potable water for residents.
The organization, Partnership With Native Americans, is planning to deliver 20 pallets of water to Monument Valley, Mexican Hat and Halchita in the Utah portion of the reservation on Monday.
The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority has stopped pumping groundwater for the water system serving Mexican Hat. Crews are hauling water from 30 miles away to top off water tanks so customers aren’t cut off.
Colorado authorities are warning that cleaning out irrigation ditches along the Animas River is temporarily discoloring the water again a week after federal and contract workers accidentally released a plume of mustard-yellow muck.
The ditches are being flushed of sediment left behind by the 3 million gallon spill that contained heavy metals.
Colorado and local authorities said in a statement Thursday that farmers and ranchers shouldn’t give the water to livestock until the sediment in the irrigation ditches is flushed out.
That work started Wednesday evening just after the state allowed Durango to take Animas River water back into its water treatment plant. However, the city isn’t yet tapping the river, which supplements its water supply.
Durango’s utilities engineer, Matt Holden, says the city is “proceeding carefully to ensure the absolute safety of our drinking water.”
The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says significant progress is being made as water quality appears to be improving in a major Southwest river system that was contaminated by millions of gallons of toxic mine sludge.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Thursday that the latest testing results show improvements and that the Animas River in southwest Colorado is “restoring itself.”
She spoke during a visit to Farmington, New Mexico, where she announced that the EPA has released $500,000 to help supply clean water for crop irrigation and livestock in northwestern New Mexico.
McCarthy acknowledged the concerns of state, local and tribal officials about the heavy metals now trapped in the river bed and along the banks. She said the EPA will deal with the sediment problem over the long term but offered no specifics.
EPA and contract workers accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater on Aug. 5 as they inspected the idled Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado. The toxic plume affected communities in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.
This item has been corrected to show that the EPA will give $500,000 to help supply clean water, not $50,000.
Sampling results from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show high levels of toxic heavy metals in river water following last week’s spill at a Colorado mine.
The federal agency released its testing data early Thursday following increasing public pressure.
The test results show water samples taken from the Animas River near Silverton, Colorado, in the hours after the spill contained lead levels more than 200 times the acute exposure limit for aquatic life and more than 3,500 times the limit for human ingestion.
The agency stressed that contamination levels peaked after the spill but have since fallen as the pollution moved downstream and the toxic metals settled to the bottom.
EPA and contract workers accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of contaminated wastewater on Aug. 5 as they inspected the idled Gold King Mine.
The president of the Navajo Nation is advising tribal members not to submit claims for federal reimbursement for the Colorado mine spill.
President Russell Begaye says doing so means Navajos waive any future claim for injuries. Tribal ranchers have had to move their livestock away from the polluted San Juan River, and farmers worry their crops will suffer. Begaye says Navajo elders also might not know what they’re signing.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken responsibility for its crew accidentally unleashing 3 million gallons of wastewater last week that flowed downstream to New Mexico and Utah. The agency says the form must be submitted within two years of the discovery of the claim.
Begaye says the EPA has distributed claim forms at public hearings across the Navajo Reservation and urged tribal members to sign them.
New Mexico’s environment secretary is criticizing Colorado’s governor for drinking water from the river contaminated by a mine spill.
Gov. John Hickenlooper put an iodine tablet in a bottle of Animas River water to kill bacteria before taking a gulp Tuesday. He was trying to prove the river was back to normal after 3 million gallons of mine waste containing heavy metals was unleashed last week.
The Farmington Daily Times (http://bit.ly/1KjwIjX ) reports that Secretary Ryan Flynn told residents there Wednesday night that the move was irresponsible and sent a bad message. He said Hickenlooper may as well have lit 15 cigarettes at once.
Hickenlooper, a Democrat, got attention in 2013 after saying he drank a form of fracking fluid to prove it was safe.
Colorado is allowing treatment plants to use river water again, but the Animas remains closed to boating.
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is visiting Farmington, New Mexico, to see how officials are dealing with the fallout from the Colorado mine waste spill that traveled downstream.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy is scheduled to meet with state, local and tribal officials Thursday and address reporters on a trail along the Animas River.
The visit follows her stop upstream in Durango, Colorado, on Wednesday. There, McCarthy said she was heartbroken by the spill and announced that investigation field work would stop at mines nationwide as the agency looks into what led up to last week’s disaster.
An EPA-led crew accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of wastewater containing metals such as arsenic, lead and iron.
Colorado says it’s now safe for Durango to process river water into drinking water.