Below are descriptions of our current and recent projects.

Lower Animas Watershed Based Plan
San Juan Watershed Group recently completed the Lower Animas Watershed Based Plan (LAWBP), which focuses on the section of the Animas River from the Colorado state line to the Animas' confluence with the San Juan River in Farmington, NM. See SJWG's GIS map for LAWBP boundaries and test sites. The plan uses data from SJWG's 2013-14 Microbial Source Tracking and 2014 Lower Animas Targeted Sampling studies (see projects below for study details) to recommend management strategies for landowners and public lands in the Lower Animas Watershed. The LAWBP recommends a holistic approach to improving water quality in the Lower Animas River. It proposes an array of projects and outreach efforts that will address a variety of pollution sources. The categories proposed are:

  • Septic, sewer, and wastewater management
  • Agricultural best management practices (BMPs)
  • Upland restoration and upland BMPs
  • Urban stormwater projects
  • Riparian restoration
  • Streambank, floodplain, and wetland restoration
  • Irrigation infrastructure improvements

The LAWBP outlines management measures, implementation strategies and schedules, and possible funding sources for each of these proposed efforts.

Microbial Source Tracking (MST)
From 2013-2014, San Juan Watershed Group and San Juan SWCD collected data to track the sources of microbial (E. coli) pollution in the San Juan and Animas Rivers. The presence of ruminant (cattle, horses, etc.) bacteria was pervasive throughout both rivers. Human bacteria was less pervasive, but still showed a consistent presence in samples from both rivers. These data demonstrate the need for diverse outreach efforts and management practices along the San Juan and Animas Rivers. See our Water Quality Links & Documents page for instructions on how to view MST maps and data. Also see the slideshow, "Who Pooped in the River?" for a summary of the study.

Lower Animas Targeted Sampling
In 2014, SJWG partnered with Mountain Studies Institute to do targeted sampling at inflows to the Lower Animas River to determine the bacteria, nutrient, and sediment inputs of different inflow sources (e.g. arroyos and ditch returns). It was found that inflows alone don't account for the majority of nutrient and bacteria pollution to the Lower Animas, emphasizing the need for data taken during storm events and high flows. Like the MST study, these findings suggest that diverse mitigation strategies are needed to improve water quality in our area. See Appendix B of the LAWBP for a summary of the targeted sampling study.

Best Management Practices
Over the past few years, San Juan Watershed Group has worked with private landowners to implement best management practices (BMPs) on their land to reduce nutrient, sediment and bacteria pollution in the San Juan, Animas, and La Plata Rivers. BMP recommendations came from B.U.G.S. Consulting's 2008 SJWG report and funding for implementation came from New Mexico Environment Department.