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EPA Launches San Juan Watershed Monitoring Program with State of New Mexico

Funds are part of $3.6 million provided to seven state and tribal partners

04/26/2018
Contact Information: 
Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard (R6press@epa.gov)
214 665-2200

DALLAS (April 26, 2018) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and regional partners including the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) launched a program to develop and implement long-term water quality monitoring 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.”

“No one better understands the importance of water resources than the people of New Mexico,” said EPA Region 6 Administrator Anne Idsal. “This new partnership will help farmers, ranchers, and other communities protect and conserve the San Juan River watershed so it can remain a vital part of the state’s economy and environment.”

“After spearheading the long-term monitoring effort on the Animas and San Juan Rivers in New Mexico following the Gold King Mine Spill of 2015, we are pleased to work with EPA, sister states, and tribes as we develop the unified approach to monitoring the entire San Juan Watershed,” said NMED Secretary Butch Tongate. “Interacting cooperatively and collectively to solve common problems, rather than making policies separately, is the hallmark of cooperative federalism and we are achieving good results for the San Juan Watershed in this way.”

EPA awarded NMED $382,777 to support program activities. NMED will use the funds to conduct sampling to assess agricultural water use, especially of irrigation canals; conduct groundwater monitoring and mapping of the watershed; and host an upcoming conference on the San Juan watershed.

The 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 specific 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 communicate results to the public about the condition of the watershed.

Part of the data collection that will occur through the partnership is the placement and maintenance of electronic probes throughout the watershed to provide real-time data. This data will be used by states, tribes, and local governments to inform watershed related decisionmaking. Additional activities include core 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.

Through the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, the U.S. Congress authorized appropriations of $4 million annually in 2017 through 2021 to develop a long-term water quality monitoring program for the San Juan watershed.

More information:  https://www.epa.gov/sanjuanwatershed

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Activities in EPA Region 6: http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/region6.htm 

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