#AnimasRiver alert system to use sensors, river spotters — The Durango Herald

A “get well soon” balloon floats in the contaminated waters of the Animas River flowing through Durango on Monday afternoon August 10, 2015 -- photo The Durango Herald, Shane Benjamin
A “get well soon” balloon floats in the contaminated waters of the Animas River flowing through Durango on Monday afternoon August 10, 2015 — photo The Durango Herald, Shane Benjamin

From The Durango Herald (Mary Shinn):

The Durango City Council unanimously adopted the Animas River Alert and Notification Plan on Tuesday. La Plata County, San Juan County, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, regional health departments and others collaborated on the plan. The idea for the plan emerged in the weeks following the Gold King Mine blowout, said Tom McNamara, La Plata County emergency management coordinator…

The U.S. Geological Survey installed sensors in March and April that measure indicators such as water acidity, cloudiness and temperature. If any of these indicators reach concerning levels, local researchers receive alerts in the form of text messages, emails and phone calls, to go check the condition of the river in person.

In addition to automated notifications from these sensors, river spotters will be trained to alert officials when they see major changes in the river.

These people will likely include law enforcement, river guides and people who operate irrigation ditches on the north end of the Animas Valley.

“We really want folks who know the river well and who have a good idea of what’s normal and what’s not,” McNamara said.

Call lists were also pre-built into the Durango-La Plata Emergency Communications Center’s CodeRED system to send out notifications to all the right officials.

“It’s essentially one click to get the information out to those people,” he said.

The public can also sign up for the alerts through the CodeRED system. Users must opt in to receive Animas River alerts.

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