Businesses in the Durango and Silverton, Colorado, areas that rely on the Animas River to drive their operations are closed and will remain that way until at least Aug. 17 as a result of the Aug. 5 Gold King Mine spill. Aug. 17 is the earliest date the EPA said it would recommend reopening stretches of the river that have been closed for drinking water, recreation and other uses, according to an AP report.
As a result, recreational businesses, such as the rafting industry, have reported losing thousands of dollars. Farmers are in danger of losing their crops because they have been forced to stop irrigating.
According to analysis released by the EPA on Aug. 12, water quality for the Animas River from the Silverton area to the Durango municipal water intake has returned to pre-event water quality levels, leading some to question why the river is not being reopened. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has been among the most vocal proponents for reopening the river, according to the Durango Herald.
The decision about whether or not to reopen the river ultimately rests with the La Plata County sheriff.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said that she takes full responsibility for the spill, which caused 3 million gallons of wastewater to pour into the Animas during an EPA investigation at the abandoned mine.
Photo: Animas River via Shutterstock