Open-file Report -
Hydrogeology and Geochemistry of the Animas River Alluvial Aquifer, San Juan County, New Mexico: Assessing Groundwater Recharge, Flow Paths, and Solute Sources
B. Talon Newton and Ethan Mamer
This report describes and discusses data and results for a geochemical study of groundwater in the Animas River Valley in New Mexico, which was conducted by the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources (NMBGMR). This study is a continuation of previous work done by NMBGMR (Newton et al., 2017). After the Gold King Mine (GKM) released metal and sludge-laden water into Cement Creek and the Animas River on August 5, 2015, the NMBGMR, along with other federal and state agencies and tribes, responded with a collaborative research effort to assess potential environmental and economic impacts to New Mexico communities along the Animas River. Collaborative agencies included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED), the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, Navajo Nation EPA, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Newton et al., (2017) using groundwater level and water chemistry data collected between January 2016 and June 2017, characterized the local hydrogeology and looked for evidence of potential impacts from the GKM spill on local groundwater quality. While Newton et al., (2017) found no evidence of groundwater contamination that was directly associated with the GKM spill, a subsequent study phase was recommended to continue groundwater quality monitoring in the Animas River valley alluvial aquifer and to answer important questions about geochemical processes with implications for potential impacts to groundwater quality by the GKM spill and mitigation of possible future mine waste spills. The dynamic groundwater/surface water interactions in the Animas River valley in New Mexico and potential changes to groundwater quality are important to the communities in the region that face potential contamination of domestic wells from historic mining sources and the GKM spill.
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