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EPA Causes Massive Wastewater Spill into the Animas River


No, that is not Photoshop or some psychedelic tribute to 76th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz. It is very real and very tragic!

In an ironic twist of fate, a clean-up team from the EPA caused a massive wastewater spill while conducting an investigation at Gold King Mine near Silverton in San Juan County, Colorado. Over one million gallons of gold mining wastewater was accidentally released and it quickly poured into the Animas River, suspending all recreational activity and shutting off the water supply to nearby farmers and residents. All we could do was look on in horror as the river turned slushy and yellow.

As an outdoor guide company, we do everything in our power to protect the land and rivers where we live and work every day, from the deepest canyon to the top of our 14’ers. We work so hard to help generations enjoy our land in the way that it is meant to be enjoyed. When we see an entire river turn yellow with contamination, threatening everything we live for is just heartbreaking.

The EPA is currently running tests on the contaminated river water, but testing and cleanup are ongoing processes and the long term impacts of this catastrophe are yet unknown. We do know that early tests have detected toxic metals like arsenic, lead, aluminum and copper just to name a few.

DVK encourages you to help protect our rivers

This is what the Animas River is supposed to look like! “Las Animas River, Colorado” by Staplegunther via Wikimedia Commons

 “The USEPA said that a cleanup team was working with heavy equipment Wednesday, August 5th, to secure an entrance to the Gold King Mine near Silverton in San Juan County. Workers instead released an estimated 1 million gallons of mine waste into Cement Creek, which flows into the Animas River.”

It’s more than just the financial losses to the recreational rafting, kayaking and canoeing business, it’s about the impact this spill will have on the ecosystems, animals and plants that rely on this river to survive. Not to mention the drinking water of the surrounding homes, businesses and farmers.

For now, the EPA is warning people to stay out of the water and not to drink or touch it as they continue to run their tests. For more information, watch this report from The Denver Post and this official statement released by the EPA.

(Cover photo: The Animas River running through Durango Friday morning, yellow from mine contamination. Brent Lewis/The Denver Post)

Volunteer to help clean and protect our planet

If you want to get involved with conservation, take a look at some of the conservation efforts and environmental groups that we support. We encourage everyone to get involved. Saving and protecting our planet is everyone’s responsibility.


Dvorak’s Expeditions – Est. 1969

Family Owned & Operated

Bill & Jaci Dvorak