The people whose drinking water was affected by the toxic waste spill from a long-abandoned southwestern Colorado gold mine will just have another reason to enjoy bottled water.
Authorities were reporting that the 3 million-gallon spill of orange-colored contamination would not significantly threaten drinking water. The toxic heavy metals in the accident were said to have declined by half in the spill’s first 10 miles.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper put an iodine tablet in a plastic bottle of Animas River water to kill bacteria before taking a gulp on Tuesday to prove that it was safe. It’s not recommended that anyone try that.
An Environmental Protection Agency mine cleanup crew accidentally set off the spill on Aug 5. But the mines first developed in the late 1800s in the Silverton area had been releasing contaminated wastewater into streams and rivers long before the accident.
Cement Creek, which picks up the Gold King runoff, is lifeless as is the upper area of the Animas River. The Animas flows into the San Juan River, which goes into New Mexico and Utah before flowing into Lake Powell.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area authorities have told boaters, swimmers and campers for now to avoid the river and the 40-mile San Juan River arm of the reservoir. The affected Navajo Reservation water-treatment plants have been turned off, and fresh water has been trucked in.
But the taste of the drinking water for many cities in a lot of the Southwest before the spill normally is so harsh that people generally rely on bottled water for drinking and cooking. Maybe the new clean up effort will help change that.