The situation with our precious river has been occupying a lot of our thought and attention lately. Many people have been emailing, texting, and calling about the mine spill into our river. Here is some current information about Durango.
Answers About the Animas River
When did this incident happen?
The Gold King Mine breach happened north of Silverton on August 5, 2015.
Is the drinking water safe?
Yes, the tap water is safe to drink. The Animas River always has been our secondary source of drinking water. The main source is the Florida River. City staff turned off and blocked the intakes from the Animas River last Wednesday before the plume reached Durango. The pumps will remain off until notified that the Animas is safe for pumping drinking water. Because the Florida River is now the sole source of drinking water, we encourage everyone to conserve water.
Is the river still orange?
No, the images of discolored water circulating in the media are from the initial discharge, almost one week ago. The Animas River remains closed; however, and the color has cleared from the river.
What about the river water quality? Is it still contaminated?
The latest water samples – taken Friday, August 7, 2015 after a mustard-yellow plume of mining wastewater moved through Durango – shows that both heavy-metal and pH levels have returned to normal conditions, as reported by Gov. John Hickenlooper and Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Dr Wolk also said, “At this point, we don’t feel there’s any potential risk for human health.”
How about the health of the river?
Our river is doing surprisingly well. Colorado Parks and Wildlife placed 108 fish in the Animas River on Wednesday, August 5th, well before the mustard-yellow plume arrived in Durango. The rainbow trout endured tainted waters for 6 days until Tuesday, August 11th, when they were removed from the river. The agency wanted to see if the fish would survive the polluted waters. Biologists checked on the three cages several times a day. With the exception of one that died immediately from unrelated causes, all the fish survived, said Joe Lewandowski, spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Also, a group of researchers with Mountain Studies Institute, which has an office in Durango, said insects on the river appear alive. Researchers caught a salmon fly, which is sensitive to pollution. Since the fly was doing well, researchers are optimistic that it bodes well for the river.
What about the air quality in the area?
This Gold King Mine situation was not an airborne contamination. The air quality in the area is not currently affected by this incident.
What does the river closure mean?
The Animas River is currently closed to recreational activities by Order of the La Plata County Sheriff until such time as the river has been deemed ultra-safe for contact and possible ingestion. The current schedule date for reopening is August 17, 2015.
Is the town of Durango closed?
No, the Animas River is only one aspect of our town. Durango and La Plata County are open with business as usual with plenty of activities. The Animas River is closed to recreational activities however there are numerous lakes and rivers for water recreation in the area.
If I still want to raft, fish or boat what are my options?
Vallecito Lake—18 miles from Durango, it is the largest body of water at this elevation or higher in Colorado. Fishing, boating, SUP, kayak, shoreline activities.
Water recreation and fishing: Electra Lake, Haviland Lake, Little Molas Lake, Andrews Lake, Upper Hermosa Creek, Navajo Reservoir, Cascade Creek, Potato Lake, West Lime Creek, San Juan River, Los Pinos River, Lemon Reservoir, Piedra River, La Plata River, Mancos River, Dolores River.
Duranglers offers fly-fishing on the Florida River, Dolores and San Juan River. Still lots of waters to guide on. 1-888-FISHDGO, http://duranglers.com/florida-river-fly-fishing
San Juan Anglers offers guides for walk-in trips, San Juan trips, high-country tributaries and lakes. http://thesanjuanangler.com , 970-382-9978
You can continue to trust that the Durango Colorado Vacations will not compromise when it comes to providing safe and comfortable environment to our out of town guests and community.
Please call the office if you have any questions, 970-247-4292.