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San Juan River Watershed FY2017 Funded Project Descriptions

Projects on this page are listed by state or tribe:

Colorado

Residential Groundwater Well Monitoring

  • Project description: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), in cooperation with San Juan Basic Public Health will evaluate the quality of ground water along the Animas River. CDPHE will collect water quality samples from 40 private wells adjacent to the Animas River and other tributaries and will help homeowners understand the quality of their drinking water. The study will also help CDPHE better understand the extent and nature of the impacts of the Gold King Mine release and legacy mining contaminants on ground water drinking water sources and inform homeowners of the need for any potential treatment or other safety measures.
    WIIN Act project funding: $53,179

Real-Time Water Quality Monitoring

  • Project description: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is funding the continued operation and maintenance of two instrument probes, or sondes, in the Animas River. These sondes are part of a larger network of sondes throughout the watershed managed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). They provide real-time data on water quality, temperature, flow, and other parameters that may help CDPHE make immediate decisions about water management (e.g., whether to close drinking water intakes in the case of a contamination incident). The sonde data also inform long-term evaluations of anticipated metals concentrations from legacy mining operations and other sources.
    WIIN Act project funding: $124,575

Assessment, Outreach, and Collaboration

  • Project description: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has established a Silverton, CO-based communications and outreach liaison position. The liaison is responsible for evaluating historical and new watershed monitoring data and develop associated outreach materials to inform local, regional, and state stakeholders about the condition of the watershed. The liaison is also developing a communications strategy, participating in relevant workgroups, and coordinating with EPA staff working on San Juan watershed and Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund site initiatives.
    WIIN Act project funding: $50,000

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Navajo Nation

Water Quality Standards for Livestock and Irrigation

  • Project description: The Navajo Nation EPA will evaluate existing standards for water used for livestock and agricultural irrigation to evaluate the need for new or revised standards. This study will give the Tribe an enhanced understanding of whether San Juan River waters can be safely used for livestock and agricultural watering. This effort will also help the Tribe to determine the need for and identify appropriate revised standards that are legally defensible and adequately protective of farmers and livestock owners in the San Juan River Basin.
    WIIN Act project funding: $316,500

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New Mexico

Analysis of the Effects of Contaminants in Animas and San Juan River Water on Attainment of Livestock Watering and Crop Irrigation Uses

  • Project description: The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) will analyze the potential impacts of direct and indirect exposure to metals contaminants in the Animas and San Juan Rivers on humans and livestock. River water has historically been applied to agricultural crops and soil, and metals contaminants from river water have also been found in irrigation ditch sediment. NMED will collect samples of irrigated sediment, soil, and crop biomass affected by the Gold King Mine release. The results of the sample analysis will help inform decisions on the safety of agricultural crops and the appropriateness of existing standards for using Animas and San Juan River waters for agricultural and irrigation activities.
    WIIN Act project funding: $124,193

Regional Groundwater Monitoring and Surface Water Connectivity along the Animas River

  • Project description: The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) will install monitoring wells and collect and analyze ground water samples to evaluate the quality of ground water along the Animas River. NMED will also evaluate the extent of connectivity between ground water and surface water along the river. The study will help NMED better understand the extent and nature of the impacts of the Gold King Mine release and legacy mining contaminants in the river and the Animas River shallow aquifer, and options for improving ground water and surface water protection in the watershed.
    WIIN Act project funding: $189,414

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Southern Ute Tribe

Ethnographic Study on Cultural Uses of Plants

  • Project description: The Southern Ute Environmental Programs Division, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and Northern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes, is conducting an ethnographic study on the cultural uses of plants (which uptake water from the Animas River) by tribal members. The study will identify those plants harvested for cultural purposes, their location, the period of harvest, and how they are used. The outcomes of the study will inform future collection and analysis of samples of plants determined to be culturally significant, to determine whether the plants are uptaking metals and at what levels, and the risk posed to tribal members. The study may also inform the need for water quality standards for cultural uses.
    WIIN Act Project funding: $350,000

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Utah

Lake Powell Coring Study

  • Project description: The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (UDEQ), in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will conduct sediment coring in the San Juan River and Colorado River deltas of Lake Powell. The purpose of the study is to obtain an improved understanding of the concentration, loading, distribution, and bioavailability of metals in the lake and more accurately describe the source of these metals. These data will also help UDEQ to evaluate impacts of metals concentration on water quality, human health, and aquatic life, and identify priorities and options for managing the environmental impacts of these metals.
    WIIN Act project funding: $900,000

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