Public meeting, workshop to focus on mine spill

Noel Lyn Smith
Shiprock irrigation supervisor Marlin Saggboy watches water flow past an irrigation gate Aug. 28, 2015, along the Fruitland Irrigation canal in Upper Fruitland, several weeks after the Gold King Mine spill caused toxic waste water to flow into the Animas and San Juan rivers.

FARMINGTON – Two upcoming events are focusing on the continuing effort to address the Gold King Mine spill, which released millions of gallons of toxic waste water last year into the Animas and San Juan rivers.

The Gold King Mine Long-Term Impact Review Team Citizens’ Advisory Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22 in Room 77200 in the San Juan College Cultural Center.

New Mexico Environment Department Bureau Chief Stephanie Stringer will give a presentation about the activities and safeguards being used to ensure clean, safe drinking water is delivered to San Juan County, according to a press release from the state Environment Department.

In addition, there will be a public comment period at 5:30 p.m.

The citizens advisory committee consists of 10 residents from communities affected by the spill. The members are volunteers whose duties include relaying concerns from the communities to the technical working groups who are part of the Long-Term Impact Review Team, according to the release.

The Restoring and Celebrating Family Wellness Committee is sponsoring the second event that focuses on the mine spill.

Each month, the committee organizes a workshop that addresses topics or issues impacting communities on the Navajo Nation.

The Feb. 23 workshop is entitled, “Planting Season: Cultural Identity, Toxic River Spill and Reliance," and includes a presentation by Larry Emerson, who farms in the Tsé Daa K’aan Chapter and who earned a doctorate from a joint program of San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate University. Emerson said in a telephone interview Friday his presentation will bring together Diné culture, communities, environmental justice and food, water and land security.

He also will talk about the long-range, short-range and immediate actions the Navajo people need to take in order to have healthy communities along the San Juan River.

In the presentation, Emerson will share information he gathered from interviews with Perry Charley, program coordinator at Diné College in Shiprock, and Shiprock Chapter President Duane "Chili" Yazzie, as well as from conversations with a coalition that focuses on food security.

The presentation and workshop will be held at 5:30 p.m. at the Tsé Daa K’aan Chapter house.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

If you go

What: Restoring and Celebrating Family Wellness Committee Workshop

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23

Where: The Tsé Daa K'aan Chapter house on U.S. Highway 64 in Hogback

What: Gold King Mine Long-Term Impact Review Team Citizens' Advisory Commitee meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22

Where: The Cultural Center, Room 77200 on the San Juan College campus, 4601 College Blvd. in Farmington

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