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EPA Data Shows Water Quality in San Juan River in the Navajo Nation Back to Pre-Event Levels

DURANGO, Colo., August 19, 2015 – Based on EPA surface water data collected following the August 5, 2015 Gold King Mine release, San Juan River water quality in Navajo Nation has returned to pre-event conditions.  This determination is based on a review of water quality data collected from August 7-15, 2015 at EPA’s sampling point near Hogback, New Mexico.

Water quality has now returned to levels measured before the release entered the Navajo Nation. Water and sediments from the mine were last observed at Nenahnezad, New Mexico, east of Hogback, New Mexico, on August 8, 2015.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye had a productive phone conversation on August 19 to review water quality data. Based on that conversation the President indicated that the Navajo Nation may re-open the San Juan River for irrigation purposes as soon as this weekend. It was also agreed on that call, that Friday August 21, would be the last day for EPA water deliveries for agricultural use on the Navajo Nation.

EPA will work closely with the Navajo Nation in the coming weeks to ensure that a long-term monitoring plan for the San Juan River is implemented. In addition, EPA is positioned to provide technical assistance in flushing irrigation ditches on the Navajo Nation.

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