Mine Spill: Navajo Will Close Irrigation Canals For A Year

August 24, 2015
Photo: Gold King Mine, Navajo WaterAP
Melvin Jones, left, delivers water to rancher Timothy Curley along the San Juan River on the Navajo Reservation, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2015, in Shiprock, New Mexico.

One of the largest communities of Navajo farmers along the San Juan River has voted to keep irrigation canals closed for at least a year following a toxic spill at a Colorado gold mine.

Navajo President Russell Begaye has asked several tribal communities to weigh in on the move.

Shiprock Chapter President Duane "Chili" Yazzie says Friday's unanimous decision by more than 100 farmers was heart-wrenching and guarantees the loss of many crops.

He says farmers are concerned about soil contamination and want to ensure future generations can farm the land.

Tribal spokesman Mihio Manus says the Navajo Nation EPA will have test results from soil samples later this week.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Navajo Nation EPA have said the river water is safe for irrigation, based on surface water testing.

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