While the data shows things continue to get better along the waterways affected by the Gold King Mine spill, toxic water is still draining at the rate of 600 gallons per minute from the mine, officials said during the daily Environmental Protection Agency briefing Saturday.
If that sounds like a lot, it is. Six hundred gallons times 60 minutes per hour times 24 hours per day comes out to 864,000 gallons each day.
Construction began Thursday on another settling pond at the Gold King Mine, this one to allow crews to manage the sludges that have settled out the series of four ponds already built, the EPA said in response to a question from the Herald.
“A commercial water-treatment system will be implemented on site as part of short-term actions for water treatment,” the EPA said. “Planning is in place for a treatment solution that includes piping discharge to a lower mine site with a better location for water treatment to continue into the fall. Longer-term treatment needs and options are being evaluated.”
Though La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith opened the Animas River to recreation Friday, while issuing a health advisory, and the city of Durango began intaking water from the river for the first time since Aug. 6, a lot of locals aren’t convinced.
New Mexico recovering
On Saturday, New Mexico announced private domestic well water use along the Animas River can resume based on tests by both the EPA and the state’s Environment Department.
New Mexico also announced a plan to flush irrigation ditches for 12 hours before normal watering, and irrigation could begin later Saturday, the EPA said.