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NM Environment Department: no effects from mine spill

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Environment Department said Tuesday it has not observed any water quality effects in the Animas River in New Mexico from the Oct. 9 Silver Wing Mine spill near Silverton, Colorado.

On Oct. 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notified NMED of the mine spill, which discolored the river.

EPA did not issue a closure of municipal drinking water supplies that use the Animas River. But the cities of Farmington and Aztec and the Lower Valley Water Users Association did temporarily shut off water intakes to municipal drinking supplies in “an abundance of caution.”

The Environment Department said it will “closely monitor water quality data until any risk of contamination from the incident has passed.”

The area in southwest Colorado has a history of mine waste contamination. Four years ago, the Gold King Mine spill released three million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas and San Juan Rivers, turning the water orange.

NMED continues to investigate the long-term effects of the 2015 spill.

“Dozens of mines are leaking acid mine water into the watershed,” NMED chief scientist Dennis McQuillan told the Journal in August. “Gold King was just one of those.”

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