San Juan Basin Public Health is reminding residents that the Animas River may change color as this year’s winter snowpack melts.
“Every spring, runoff transports naturally occurring sediments downstream,” the health department said in a news release Monday. “Some of these sediments originate in the San Juan Mountains and are naturally high in certain heavy metals. This may cause the river to display a cloudy, turbid appearance or a change in color.”
Discoloration may be more noticeable because of these low flows in the river, San Juan Basin Public Health said.
On April 3, the health department, along with San Juan County, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, reinstalled water-quality monitoring technology at five locations in the Animas River and its tributaries.
The monitoring stations allow agencies to view indicators of river health in real time. That data can be accessed by visiting https://on.doi.gov/2qFpztD.
San Juan Basin Public Health said water samples taken throughout the Animas River indicate there’s no risk to human or environmental health from normal use of the waterway.
However, the health department suggests people who come in contact with the river to wash with soap, keep a close watch on children who are more susceptible to unintentionally swallowing river water and treat water before consumption.