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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Fourth annual Animas, San Juan Watersheds conference slated for June 18-21 in Farmington

FARMINGTON – The watersheds of the Animas and San Juan rivers support many forms of life along the rivers’ paths from the headwaters in the San Juan Mountains to Lake Powell in Arizona.


A river
A post-conference teach-in will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, June 21, at the Navajo Shiprock Chapter House on U.S. Highway 64 in Shiprock, in conjunction with the “Animas and San Juan Watersheds Conference: Success and Challenges from Headwaters to Lake Powell” on June 19-20 in Farmington. A series of brief summary talks will be given by speakers who presented their study results at the June 19-20 portion of the conference. (NMSU photo)

Since the Gold King Mine sludge spill in 2015, which turned the river golden brown, scientists and concerned citizens have focused on water quality issues facing the Four Corners region.

The New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, housed at New Mexico State University, will host the fourth annual conference “Animas and San Juan Watersheds Conference: Success and Challenges from Headwaters to Lake Powell” June 18-20 in Farmington.

A post-conference teach-in will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, June 21, at the Navajo Shiprock Chapter House on U.S. Highway 64 in Shiprock. A series of brief summary talks will be given by speakers who presented their study results at the San Juan College portion of the conference.

“The teach-in portion of the conference was very successful last year with approximately 45 community members attending,” said Sam Fernald, director of NMWRRI. “They engaged in a productive dialogue directing poignant questions to the research group about the quality of water and the safety of agricultural products grown in the San Juan Watershed.”

“The conference planning committee is eager to build on the success of the last three conferences in bringing together researchers and the general public to meet, learn from and share the results of ongoing water quality research, including results associated with the Gold King Mine spill,” said Fernald.

“This annual conference continues to support the activities outlined in the Gold King Mine Water Spill Long Term Monitoring Plan, prepared by the New Mexico Long Term Impact Team in 2016,” Fernald said.

The technical program, including oral and poster presentations of the research being conducted in the watershed, will be presented Wednesday and Thursday, June 19-20, at San Juan College’s Henderson Fine Arts Center in Farmington.

On Thursday afternoon, a Risk Communication Workshop will be offered to help address topics such as the psychology of people when disaster events happen, the perception of risk, the concept of hazards, and how to communicate scientific findings with the public.

A pre-conference field trip will be held Tuesday, June 18. Two identical sessions will be from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. at Berg Park, 400 Scott Ave. in Farmington.

“This event will feature demonstrations of sampling water techniques used on the Animas and San Juan rivers to monitor water quality,” Fernald said. “Participants will rotate through four stations to learn about benthics (the ecological region at the lowest level of the river); water quality and sediments; stream and riparian habitat and land use; and the use of sondes (instrument probes) for stream and river monitoring.”

Environmental Protection Agency staff will be present to provide information on the current ongoing sampling projects throughout the watershed as part of the San Juan Watershed/Water Infrastructure Improvement for the National Act Long Term Monitoring Program.

Online registration for the conference, as well as the field trip, may be done at http://animas,nmwrri.nmsu.edu/2019/register/.