Last updated 1:57PM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Vallecito Mercury Study Funded
(2007-02-14)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: La Plata County officials have agreed to earmark funds to monitor and study mercury fallout near Vallecito Reservoir.
Findings of the study, however, could have some far reaching impacts.
KSUT's Victor Locke Reports.

VICTOR: Signs were posted last summer around Vallecito Reservoir.
They warned of high mercury content detected in Walleye and Pike.
Not good, for a summer retreat that prides itself on great fishing.
Even worse, for an area striving to recover after the devastating fires of 2002.
The signs and concerns over mercury prompted the Vallecito Community Association to action.
Last fall, Association members went before the LaPlata Board of County Commissioners, seeking financial support, for a monitoring system.
Tuesday, the Commissioners approved 25-thousand dollars for the San Juan Resource Conservation and Development Council to monitor and study concentrations and potential sources of mercury in rainfall and snowpack in the Upper Los Pinos River Watershed.
Don Anderson is President elect of Vallecito Community Association and a retired EPA employee.
He says the funding will also pay for a weather station which will help in the study.
ANDERSON: THEY'RE TRYING TO CORRELATE THE MERCURY DEPOSITION RATES WITH THE WEATHER PATTERNS, WIND DIRECTION, PRECIPITATION AND SO ON SO YOU CAN SEE WHEN THE MERCURY DEPOSITION IS OCCURING, IF THERE IS A PATTERN TO IT THAT WOULD POINT A FINGER TO WHERE IT'S COMING FROM.
EISENFELD: THIS IS EXTRAORDINARY, I THINK THIS IS VALLECITO CITIZENS SAYING HEY, YOU KNOW, WE NEED TO ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM. AND WITHOUT MONITORS, WE DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING ON.
Mike Eisenfeld is the New Mexico Staff Organizer of the San Juan Citizens Alliance, a group which says mercury contamination is on the rise in the Four Corners.
EISENFELD: WE BELIEVE THAT MERCURY IS SHOWING UP IN ALL PARTS OF THE FOOD CHAIN, IN SOIL AND SNOWMELT. WE'VE ALSO HEARD ANECTDOTALLY, THAT PLACES LIKE WOLF CREEK PASS SHOW AN INORDINATE AMOUNT OF TOXICITY INCLUDING MERCURY. SO THIS IS SOMETHING WE DECIDED WE NEED TO INVEST MORE IN AND FIGURE OUT WHAT IS GOING ON.
The Alliance and Eisefeld say the Vallecito monitoring could provide conclusive evidence pointing to coal burning power plants in Northwest New Mexico as the source of mercury there, and elsewhere.
EISENFELD: I THINK THAT MERCURY IS PERHAPS THE MOST THREATENING PUBLIC HEALTH SITUATION THAT WE HAVE ASSOCIATED WITH THE POWER PLANTS, AND AS LONG AS WE KEEP BURNING FOSSIL FUELS WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THESE SORT OF SITUATIONS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN DEALT WITH.
The mercury monitoring and weather station should be installed later this year.
The collection of data will then begin.
From KSUT, Four Corner's Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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