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. The latter, in excess, robs water of oxygen needed by aquatic life. The group tested only for E. coli last year. This year, nutrients were added. This year, the E. coli level has been well within limits at the New Mexico line, May said. A Colorado partner, the Animas Watershed Partnership, which works on water-quality projects in New Mexico and with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, also is following the work of May’s group, now in its second year, said Ann Oliver, coordinator of the Colorado project. Oliver said her group is searching for funding for research at two points upstream – on the Animas upstream of the Florida River and on the Florida before it reaches the Animas, she said. The hope is to get enough money to test for E. coli and nutrients at the Animas and Florida sites and pay for genetic testing at Bondad to determine the source of E. coli contamination, Oliver said. May’s volunteers measure the amount of E. coli and nutrients at the site here, but the organization can’t afford the cost of source analysis.

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