The Latest: Storm knocks out Colorado mine’s treatment plant
DENVER (AP) — The Latest on the Colorado blizzard (all times local):
New Mexico officials have told some municipal drinking water systems to stop using water from two rivers after the weather-related failure of a mine wastewater treatment plant upstream in Colorado.
The New Mexico Environment Department said Friday anyone who uses the San Juan and Animas rivers for drinking water or irrigation should take appropriate precautions, but it did not say what those precautions might be.
The agency said the U.S. Geological Survey will test water and sediment from the rivers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the wastewater plant, said it doesn’t believe drinking water will be harmed.
The plant treats water flowing from the Gold King Mine. The EPA said electric power fluctuations related to a major winter storm knocked the plant out on Thursday.
Wintry weather has knocked out a plant that treats wastewater draining from the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says fluctuating electricity stopped the plant Thursday night.
The agency says it doesn’t believe downstream drinking water will be affected, although a long-term shutdown could affect fish.
EPA spokeswoman Cynthia Peterson said Friday operators haven’t been able to reach the plant because the access road is blocked by at least one avalanche. She says it could take several days to clear the road.
The plant can be operated remotely and no one was at the site when the avalanche occurred.
The plant was installed after the EPA inadvertently triggered a wastewater spill from the Gold King in 2015, contaminating rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.
Two Colorado campers have been found safe after they got caught in the blizzard that struck the region this week.
Authorities say 20-year-old Michael Lee Gomez and 19-year-old Olivia Megan Schack, both of Arvada, were found Friday near Ward, west of Boulder.
They had gone camping on Tuesday. The blizzard struck southeast Wyoming and northeast Colorado on Wednesday and Thursday, and the two took refuge in their car.
Residents in the region were still digging out Friday, but most schools and government offices reopened. Major interstates in both states were open although crews were still clearing snow from some secondary roads.
Thousands of homes and businesses were still without power Friday in Colorado, mostly in the Denver area. Xcel Energy brought crews from other states to help with restoring service.