John Hickenlooper Drinks Animas River Water...After Making Sure It Won't Kill Him

Yesterday, our Alan Prendergast wrote about the environmental disaster on the Animas River, caused by the Environmental Protection Agency's accidental release of mining wastewater measured in the millions of gallons — and noted that the situation was many years in the making.

During a visit to the area, Governor John Hickenlooper stressed that despite the spill, the river is getting back to normal — a point he attempted to emphasize by drinking water straight from the Animas.

The images of him slugging down mouthfuls of river water are cringe-inducing, particularly given shots of the river in the immediate wake of the wastewater discharge.

Here's an example.

However, Hickenlooper wasn't quite so cavalier with his health as it might have seemed at first blush. Turns out he put a purification tablet in the bottle and waited half an hour before pulling from it.

Drinking stuff that causes most of us to recoil has become something of a go-to move for Hickenlooper.

Back in 2013, as you'll recall, he revealed that he'd taken a drink of fracking fluid in an attempt to demonstrate that it was safer than critics claimed.

Here's a video from a U.S. Senate appearance that year in which he talked about this potent potable:

During his trip to the Animas this week, Hickenlooper shared numerous photos on his Facebook page, including this shot of him addressing the press....

...and an image of the river...

...accompanied by a caption that read, "After each disaster and each emergency we face, Colorado will come back stronger than before. ?#?AnimasRiver? ?#?Colorado?."

But while he stressed the increasing safety of the water in the Animas, he didn't advocate for folks to drink directly from it without taking precautions.

Hence, the iodine pill, which he held up to a videographer with the Durango Herald, a paper that's offered outstanding coverage of this story.

Here's a screen capture from the Herald footage:

Whether the use of the pill diminishes the impact of Hickenlooper's drinking stunt is up to each person to decide.

But it apparently did the trick for his gut. Twenty-four hours after taking the drink, the Herald reports, the governor's office informed the paper that he remained in good health.

In other words, he hasn't been hit by Animas' Revenge — although the EPA's reputation certain has been.

Here's the Durango Herald video of Hickenlooper's latest gulp.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts