San Juan Watershed Group

Quality: Study Finds Human Waste in Rivers

As part of a two-year study of the Animas and San Juan Rivers, the San Juan Watershed Group recently reported findings of elevated levels of bacteria from human waste in the waters. Researchers focused on water quality in New Mexico, except for one point at the Colorado and New Mexico border. The point on the border was studied for only one year, making the sample size smaller. But it is a red flag, especially because the levels of human bacteria dropped at sites tested downstream. “The public should have some concern about the recreational use of these rivers,” said Geoffrey Smith, biologist at New Mexico State University, who worked on the study. However, the bacteria is not found in treated drinking water. The study found bacteria from animals such as cattle and elk in 90 percent of the samples and bacteria from humans in 80 percent of the samples across both rivers. Bacteria from human waste could be coming from leaking septic tanks, people who illegally dump waste, going to the bathroom outside or from wastewater treatment plants. These finds are concerning because bacteria from human waste is more likely to make people sick with viral and bacterial infections than animal bacteria, Smith said. Finding where the bacteria is coming from is the next step in eliminating the pollution.


February 28, 2015--Human waste taints Animas (Durango Herald)

Elevated levels of bacteria from human waste have been found in the Animas River at the Colorado and New Mexico border for the first time. Although E. coli pollution has been a problem in the Animas and San Juan rivers in New Mexico for years, this study also revealed a different kind of bacteria found in human feces. “It’s not a result we had hoped to see. ...


February 25, 2015--Final results of river pollutant study to be presented (Four Corners News)

The final results from a study of contaminants in the San Juan and Animas rivers will be presented at San Juan College on Thursday. A preliminary analysis of study samples found high levels of bacteria associated with human waste in both rivers.


Animas Watershed Partnership Joint Meeting (Farmington, NM)

09/04/2014 6:08 pm

A joint meeting of the Animas Watershed Partnership, San Juan Watershed Group, and Mountain Studies Insitute. Featured presentation will be Katya Hafich with the Colorado Water and Energy Research Center.


May 27, 2014--How healthy is the Animas River? (Cortez Journal)

The swiftly flowing Animas River ran turbid here Monday, but that was the least of Melissa May’s concerns as she dipped water samples to be analyzed for various qualities. The main focus of the San Juan Watershed Group research is E. coli and nutrients – nitrogen and phosphorus. Certain strains of the former can cause nausea, fever and vomiting.


February 23, 2014--E. coli levels in Animas are mixed (Durango Herald)

A study last year found that the level of E. coli bacteria in the Animas River just north of the New Mexico state line met water-quality standards but exceeded them in the New Mexico stretch of the river. E. coli levels in the San Juan River above its confluence with the Animas at Farmington also were above the limit. The E.


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