ALBUQUERQUE – Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation say a newly approved water bill includes provisions to expedite reimbursements to state, local and tribal governments for a 2015 Gold King Mine spill.
A joint statement Saturday by Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and Representatives Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham says provisions deal with the aftermath of the Gold King Mine spill on Aug. 5, 2015, north of Silverton.
The lawmakers say provisions force the Environmental Protection Agency to extend the date for reimbursements to governments’ emergency responses, direct the EPA to quickly address farmers’ claims and authorize the EPA to coordinate with governments and pay for water monitoring efforts.
The EPA said Friday it will pay $4.5 million for state, local and tribal governments’ emergency responses. The agency turned down $20.4 million in other requests.
In October, Environmental Protection Agency announced another $262,441 in grants to cover response and cleanup costs associated with the spill.
The city of Durango requested $444,032 for costs it incurred during the spill and about $5.2 million for future costs through 2030, according to an EPA letter.
The EPA approved $55,403 in reimbursement related to the spill, and the city has already received these funds, said Sherri Dugdale, assistant to the city manager.
City staff members have not reviewed the EPA’s decision in detail, and they can not yet say whether they might consider an appeal, she said.
The city was asked to anticipate future costs and include those in its request, but the city had not included these funds in the city budget, she said.
The EPA has assumed responsibility for the Aug. 5, 2015, spill, which affected waterways in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.