Something in the water: Has City Reservoir already been poisoned?

Most Durangoans may not be losing sleep over terrorists contaminating the local water supply, but some are very concerned about poison leaching into City Reservoir, Durango’s drinking water source. Several local residents are asking hard questions about the City of Durango’s recent use of poison to control prairie dogs around the reservoir.

“If there are chemicals being used to poison prairie dogs, are those chemicals getting into the Durango water supply?” asked Dave Wegner, of Friends of the Animas River.

In a letter responding to citizen concerns City Engineer Gregg Boysen noted that the city has controlled prairie dogs on the 61 acres surrounding City Reservoir, and the contractor doing the work used Phos-Fume tablets.

“As far as I know, Phos-Fume is the only chemical he used,” Boysen wrote. “The main ingredient in Phos-Fume is phosphorus. No clearances from government agencies were required, because the chemical is not listed as a contaminant such as some other pesticides and herbicides, and it is commonly found in soil. In fact, it

is a common component in fertilizer.”

However, Wegner, also a water-quality engineer, answered the statement, saying that Phos-Fume is toxic, and there is currently no way to determine its impact on local drinking water because no tests are being conducted.

“It’s the use of chemicals in a watershed that’s the biggest concern for me,” he said. “The problem is, we don’t know what effects the prairie dog control is having on drinking water. In the city’s water-quality work, testing for this particular toxicant is not being done.”

– Will Sands