NMED: Silver Wing Mine incident did not harm Animas River water quality in New Mexico

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
The town of Silverton is visible in December 2014 from U.S. Highway 550 in Colorado. Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say the Silver Wing Mine near Silverton spilled wastewater into the Animas River earlier this week.

FARMINGTON — The additional discharge from the Silver Wing Mine into the Animas River did not have a negative impact on water quality, according to the New Mexico Environment Department.

The Silver Wing Mine discharged a larger amount of water than usual last week, causing some discoloration in the Animas River near Silverton, Colorado.

However, the discoloration was not visible downstream, and NMED does not see any evidence of negative impacts to water quality.

The environment department sent a series of slides to the San Juan County Office of Emergency Management on Oct. 15, which the office provided to The Daily Times. The information was also posted on the NMED social media channels.

According to the slides, discharges of wastewater from mines can increase turbidity and increase the acidity of river water. The slides state that turbidity increases are an indicator of heavy metals.

NMED has been monitoring water quality data for both turbidity and pH in the Animas River in Colorado and New Mexico. According to the slides, the Silver Wing Mine has not, to date, caused potentially harmful changes in turbidity or pH in the Animas River as it flows from Colorado into New Mexico at Cedar Hill.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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