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U.S. EPA awards $366,000 to Navajo Nation EPA for San Juan watershed monitoring program

Funds are part of $3.6 million distributed to four states and three tribes

Contact Information: 
Margot Perez-Sullivan (

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $366,000 grant to the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency to ensure tribal water quality standards are protective of livestock and crop irrigation water. The funds are part of a larger regional program launched today to develop and implement a long-term water quality monitoring program for the San Juan River watershed.

“The San Juan Watershed Monitoring Partnership will bring together states and tribes to collect and share information vital to the protection of the watershed and important economic activities in the region,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “This partnership showcases the agency’s cooperative federalism approach and will improve environmental outcomes for the people and livestock that depend on these water resources.”

“Livestock and agriculture are important economically and culturally on the Navajo Nation,” said Acting Region 9 Administrator Alexis Strauss. “Ensuring these water quality standards are protective will support Navajo farmers and inform the Tribe’s understanding of the San Juan River watershed.”

The Navajo EPA will use the funds to assess whether existing water quality standards protect livestock watering and agricultural irrigation in the San Juan River basin. Navajo EPA will collect water quality and sediment data to determine whether existing standards need to be updated. They also will work with the other states and tribes in the regional partnership to share water quality information and develop community outreach materials.

"The Gold King Mine Spill has helped identify areas in water monitoring that the Navajo Nation needs to improve,” said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. “We need a long-term water monitoring program. We appreciate the U.S. EPA for providing resources to address the water quality issues the Nation faces."

In 2017, the U.S. Congress authorized appropriations for the development of a long-term water monitoring program for the San Juan watershed through the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act. The resulting partnership brings together EPA with the seven states and tribes adjoining the watershed — Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, the Navajo Nation, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe — to sample and assess the water quality of the watershed, including the San Juan River, the Animas River and Lake Powell. EPA provided $3.6 million in grants, contracts and other financial vehicles to support monitoring and assessment activities identified by the partners, including:

  • Coordinating and sharing data to help inform watershed decisionmaking;
  • Conducting water quality, sediment and biological monitoring to understand watershed conditions and target additional monitoring; 
  • Implementing research activities to inform local stakeholders on watershed decisionmaking; and
  • Developing and launching a website to provide direct public access to data about watershed conditions.

The partnership will expand water quality monitoring throughout the watershed to collect real-time water and sediment quality data publicly available at the website. This data will be used by states, tribes, and local governments to inform watershed-related decisionmaking. Additional activities include sampling in Lake Powell to understand historical and ongoing metal deposits in the lake and assessing exposure risks of using the San Juan and Animas Rivers for recreation, agricultural irrigation, livestock watering, and cultural purposes.

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