“EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye had a productive phone conversation on (Wednesday) to review water quality data”, the release said. The Navajo Nation has yet to lift water restrictions on the river, so the EPA has been delivering water to communities and storing them in large tanks.
Not all the water has been welcomed. Branch and Begaye placed their hands inside the area where hoses hook up to the tanks, and their hands came out partially black, according to a video the president’s office posted on its Facebook page.
The tribe’s attorney general Ethel Branch held the cup of water up to the camera.
The contamination left the Navajo, already mistrustful of the federal government, angry at the EPA and seeking damages. “Let us take care of these issues ourselves because we care about the health and welfare of our people”.
Ben said he notified the EPA about the tanks and asked for certification that the tanks were in good condition to haul water.
Sitting on a table were five plastic containers holding water samples – varying in color from yellow to brown – that Ben said were collected from the tanks.
The EPA released a statement to KOB Thursday, reading in part: “These tanks were sourced from the water division of Triple S Trucking Company, an Aztec, N.M.-based tanker truck company”.
Begaye and other Navajo Nation leaders visited one of the tanks in Shiprock on Wednesday. The Nation will be resuming irrigation use of the San Juan’s waters as early as this weekend, and the EPA will cease deliveries of agricultural water August 21. He said farmers also requested that he reach out to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs for alternate water sources.
New Mexico environment officials said Thursday they are planning another water-testing fair for residents next week and the results from previous tests have been mailed to about 570 private well owners.
“EPA will work closely with the Navajo Nation in the coming weeks to ensure that a long-term monitoring plan for the San Juan River is implemented”, the release said.