Communities along San Juan, Animas rivers advised to take precautions

Santa Fe — The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) was notified this afternoon by the State of Utah that the Gladstone wastewater treatment facility, which treats drainage from Gold King Mine, failed on March 14 due to loss of power.

Because of heavy snowfall in the area, the treatment facility is currently inaccessible.

Wastewater from the mine is currently bypassing the facility at a rate between 250 to 300 gallons per minute, according to estimates from Utah and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The U.S. Geological Survey is mobilizing a sampling team that will collect water and sediment samples at multiple points in New Mexico along the Animas and San Juan rivers.

Affected communities have been notified of the failure of the treatment facility and have been advised to take protective measures, such as shutting off intake points for drinking water systems. Residents relying on the San Juan and Animas rivers for potable or agricultural purposes should take appropriate precautions.

NMED will provide additional information through its website  as it becomes available.