The 2016 San Juan Mining And Reclamation Conference
The primary goals of this annual conference are to educate the public and other stakeholders on the science and policy of mining, mine lands remediation, and water quality as it relates to non-point source pollution, improving mining practices, and addressing water quality impairments through workshops, field tours, and presentations. Each year the conference is hosted in a different San Juan community to highlight the host area’s mining heritage and successes in conducing mine remediation and water quality improvement projects.
2016 Conference Presentations:
Below are the presenters and their abstracts for the 2016 SJMRC. The conference had 4 sessions with 3-4 presentations each.
- Session 1: CURRENT STATE OF OUR WATERSHED*
- Uncompahgre Watershed - Jeff Litteral and Bill Coughlin
- Animas Watershed - Ann Oliver
- Rio Grande Watershed - Heather Dutton
- San Miguel Watershed - Randy Barns
- Session 2: LEARNING FROM THE GOLD KING MINE SPILL
- How Did We Get Here? - Pter Butler
- The Day the Animas River Turned Orange: A Coordinatesd Response - Butch Knowton
- Looking Below the Surface: Monitoring River health - Scott Roberts and Curtis Hartenstine
- Looking into the Future: Bonita PEak Mining District Superfund Site- What Will it Do and Not Do?
- Session 3: GETTING TO ACTION: MONITORING AND TOOLS TO SUPPORT ACTIONABLE RESULTS
- The LEvenworth Creek Restoration PRoject - Jason Willis
- The 303 (d) Assessment and MEasurable Results Program - Skip Feeney
- Developing a Comprehensive Statewide Abandoned Mine Land Data Hub - Petewr Barkman and Michael O'Keefe
- Good Samaritan: Unblock the Road Block - MArk Levin
- Session 4: DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE RESPONSES TO THE LEGACY OF MINING: TOOLS IN THE TOOLBOX
- Tools in the Colorado State Toolbox
- Succeessful mine plugging and restoration in the Bonanza Mining District
- Environmental Stewardship in the 21st Century: A Miner's Approach - Brianna Greer and Brian K. Briggs
Session 1: Current State of our Watershed
1. UNCOMPAHGRE WATERSHED
- Jeff Litteral, Colorado Division of Reclamation and Mining Safety. email
- Bill Coughlin, President/Owner: Western Stream Works, LLC. email or 970.708.2139
The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership (UWP) received a Non-Point Source 319 grant to conduct three mine related remediation projects in 2014. Two of those projects, the Michael Breen in the Uncompahgre River drainage and the Vernon Mine in Gray Copper Gulch were completed in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The Atlas Mill was the third and final project started in June 2016. The bank stabilization project involved rehabilitation of Sneffels Creek to prevent a braid of the stream from flowing through and eroding the mine tailings in to the waterway. The project was a collaboration between the UWP, Ouray Silver Mines/Revenue Mine, US Forest Service/GMUG, DRMS and Western Stream Works. Bill Coughlin, owner of Western Stream Works will present an update on the construction thus far and remaining work to be completed.
2. ANIMAS WATERSHED
- Ann Oliver, Coordinator: Animas Watershed Partnership. email or 970.903.9361
The Animas Watershed Partnership, a collaborative community-based watershed group since 2002, engages partners across the whole Animas River Watershed. Addressing water quality in the Animas River is complicated by the complexity jurisdictional boundaries within the watershed. As it flows from its headwaters to its confluence with the San Juan River in New Mexico, the river passes through three counties, three distinct state and tribal jurisdictions, three EPA jurisdictions, four municipalities, as well as public and private lands. Historically, mining was a significant economic activity in the upper portions of the Animas River watershed, upstream of Silverton. In the upper Animas River, acidic runoff and groundwater containing high levels of metals come from both natural and anthropogenic sources. However, as the Animas River nears Durango, metal concentrations become diluted and water chemistry changes lessening the impact of metal concentrations on aquatic life. In NM, the Animas is impaired for E. coli and nutrient levels with TMDLs in place. AWP and partners have identified addressing nutrient and E.coli sources as priorities, and are taking action to implement BMPs.
3. RIO GRANDE WATERSHED
- Heather Dutton, Manager: San Luis valley Water Conservancy District. email or 719.589.2230
The Rio Grande Basin encompasses 7,500 square miles in South Central Colorado. The Rio Grande provides water for three states and Mexico before reaching the Gulf of Mexico. Currently, the residents of the Upper Rio Grande are facing challenges associated with the effects of historic mining, the changing condition of headwaters forests, groundwater sustainability, and balancing diverse needs with water supply. There are many enthusiastic organizations working through robust partnerships to address these issues and improve the water quality, riparian and aquatic habitat, and upland ecosystems in the Rio Grande Basin.
4. SAN MIGUEL WATERSHED
Randy Barns, Town Manager of Ophir. email or 970.708.8330
Will discuss two particular reclamation projects that are occurring in the Ophir area. The Caribou mine tailings clean-up is an EPA project slated to begin in August of 2016. The primary goal of the project is to relocate the mine's tailings from the banks of the Howard Fork to an on-site repository. In 2017, work will commence on the Carbonero mine adit. The adit will be opened, cleared and a bulkhead will be installed.
Session 2: Learning from the Gold King Mine Spill
1. HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Peter Butler, Animas River Stakeholders Group
Peter Butler will share an overview of the Animas River watershed and reclamation in the basin from his perspective of twenty-two years of involvement in mine remediation in the Upper Animas River Basin. He will discuss the history of remediation and the resulting changes in water quality and aquatic life that have occurred over time. Peter will provide context as to the rationale and reasoning that led to U.S. EPA working on the Gold King Mine in the first place.
2. THE DAY THE ANIMAS RIVER TURNED ORANGE- A COORDINATED RESPONSE
- Butch Knowton, La Plata County Emergency Management
Butch Knowlton will highlight the Office of Emergency Management's (OEM) response to the Gold King Spill in 2015. The presentation will highlight what information the OEM knew and how they informed the public.
3. LOOKING BELOW THE SURFACE- MONITORING RIVER HEALTH
- Scott Roberts, Mountain Studies Institute. email or 970.387.5161
- Curtis Hartenstine, Southern Ute Indian Tribe
Mountain Studies Institute (MSI) and the Southern Ute Tribe (SUIT) are unique in that these organizations collected water quality and aquatic life metrics before, during and after the Gold King Mine spill. Scott and Curtis will discuss the macroinvertebrate and fish population response to the Gold King Releasein the lower Animas River watershed. Historical and recent population data will be discussed as well as long term monitoring.
4. LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE: BONITA PEAK MINING DISTRICT SUPERFUND SITE- WHAT WILL IT DO AND NOT DO?
- Rebecca Thomas, EPA Bonita Peak Mining District. email or 303.312.6552
Rebecca Thomas will focus on EPA’s current and planned actions for the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund project. EPA is collecting data to characterize the nature and extent of contamination and answer questions about ecological risk, human health risk, mining district hydrology, and cultural resources. Once more is understood about the mining district, work will begin to remediate the sources of contamination and improve water quality throughout the watershed.
Lunch Keynote: Terry Braun, P.E., Principal Consultant at SRK Consulting
Session 3: Getting to Action: Monitoring and Tools to Support Actionable Results
1. THE LEVENWORTH CREEK RESTORATION PROJECT
The Leavenworth Creek Restoration Project (LCRP) is located in the Upper Clear Creek watershed along the east side of the Continental Divide. The project site is approximately six miles southwest of Georgetown Colorado. Leavenworth Creek has historically exceeded state water quality standards for zinc and lead with the recent addition of copper with regards to non-attainment of the aquatic life use standard. The Waldorf Mine dispersed tailings section of the project was completed in the fall of 2015 in a collaborative effort between Trout Unlimited (TU), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Freeport McMoRan, National Forest Foundation (NFF), Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety (DRMS), and Georgetown Historical Society. By leveraging resources and technical expertise, TU was able to exceed the original goals and objectives of the project by completing construction of 0.47 miles of locally harvested riprap channel, removal and relocation of 5,550 cubic yards of mine tailings from the floodplain to on-site repositories, re-vegetation of floodplain and repository soils, and several hundred feet of wetland construction at the bottom of the project area.
2. THE 303 (d) ASSESSMENT AND MEASURABLE RESULTS PROGRAM
- Skip Feeney, Water Quality Scientist: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Water Quality Control Division. email or 303.691.4928
The Colorado Water Quality Control Division is required under the Clean Water Act Section 303(d) to develop lists of water bodies not meeting water quality standards. The EPA must receive an updated list every two years. The list of impaired waters is developed through a stakeholder process culminating with a rulemaking hearing by the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission. The presentation will provide an overview of the process and timings of key components for the San Juan basin. Skip Feeney will also provide an overview of the division’s Measurable Results program. This program has been tasked with measuring the water quality impacts of point and nonpoint source pollution control activities. This information supports the planning and prioritization of resources to achieve the best possible water quality benefit for the state. This presentation will describe active projects and share water quality impact results from a completed restoration project.
3. DEVELOPING A COMPREHENSIVE STATEWIDE ABANDONED MINE LAND DATA HUB
- Peter Barkmann and Michael O’Keeffe, Colorado Geological Survey, Colorado School of Mines
email Peter Barkmann or 303.384.2642 or email Michael O'Keeffe or 303.384.2637
By some estimates, there are well over 20,000 abandoned mine features in Colorado. Abandoned mines pose physical safety hazards and impact human health and the environment. More than 1,800 stream miles in Colorado are potentially impaired by abandoned mines. Several federal and state agencies collect abandoned mine information and store this information in their own databases. This makes it difficult to develop a clear statewide picture of the abandoned mine land impacts and risks in Colorado. The Colorado Geological Survey (CGS) is developing an Abandoned Mine Land (AML) data hub that will provide access to statewide AML information from multiple sources such as; the general location, types of features, agency involvement, status of restoration efforts, and potentially the prioritization of AML sites for restoration. The AML data hub will bring existing AML inventories into a centralized GIS platform to facilitate the sharing of data with state and federal agencies, drinking water suppliers and the general public. It will also help in building collaborative relationships between agencies and stakeholder groups in restoration efforts.
4. GOOD SAMARITAN: UNBLOCKING THE ROAD BLOCK
- Mark Levin, P.E., Mining & Environmental Services
Mark Levin will discuss how local governments and NGOs interested in improving water quality, and private companies interested in either resource or land development are all deterred from involvement with inactive mining properties with water discharges, due to potential Clean Water Act and Superfund liability associated with existing mine drainage. The talk will also discuss how over the past few decades, parties with various interests have debated “Good Samaritan” amendments to the Clean Water Act without any resolution. Explanation of the legal framework creating formidable barriers to mineral exploration and re-development in Colorado will also be discussed.
Session 4: Developing Innovative Responses to the Legacy of Mining: Tools in the Toolbox
1. TOOLS IN THE COLORADO STATE TOOLBOX
- Fonda Apostolopoulos, Colorado Department of Health and Environment. email or 303.692.3411
In this presentation we will talk about the state tools available to help assist mine land owners on how to get their properties remediated. We will go over the state's Voluntary Cleanup program, our Targeted Brownfield Assessments program, our 1306 program, Brownfield Tax Credits, and the Brownfields Revolving Loan Program. We will talk about who can qualify for each program and how we can work together to help you achieve your goals.
2. SUCCESSFUL MINE PLUGGING AND RESTORATION IN THE BONANZA MINING DISTRICT
- Cary Foulk, P.G., Integrated GeoSolutions Inc., Steamboat Springs, Colorado. email or 970.846.9013
- Bence V. Close, P.E., Close Consulting Group, L.L.C., Windsor, Colorado
The Bonanza Mining District, located in the upper Kerber Creek watershed in the northeastern San Juan Mountains of Colorado, was mined for gold, silver, lead, copper and zinc from the 1880s through the late 1960s. In the early 1990s, the District was evaluated for potential inclusion on the National Priorities List (NPL) as a Superfund site. This was avoided through the formation of the Bonanza Mining District Group (Bonanza Group) consisting of private parties with historical involvement in the District, and development of innovative agreements for proactive cleanup. The innovative process resulted in highly expedited field work, with most of the work funded by the private parties and performed in cooperation with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).
This presentation summarizes the remediation performed by the private parties, including the safe release of mine water held behind natural collapses and the successful mine plugging. The project demonstrates how addressing the major metal loading sources, followed by stream and riparian reclamation and then natural recovery, can lead to rapid restoration of aquatic life in mine-impacted watersheds.
3. ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP IN THE 21ST CENTURY- A MINER'S APPROACH
- Brianna Greer, Solid Solution GeoSciences LLC
- Brian K. Briggs, P.E., COO, Ouray Silver Mines
Ouray Silver Mines Inc.'s is bringing the historic Revenue-Viriginius back into production with a focus on community engagement and environmental protection. Ouray Silver Mines' strong commitment to environmental protection is demonstrated through the recently permitted passive treatment system for adit discharge that will function during operations and closure.
THANK YOU to our 2016 Conference Sponsors!
Event Sponsors: Idarado-Newmont | Harrison Western | Ouray Silver Mines | Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Friend Sponsors: Amec Foster Wheeler
Supporters: Trust for Land Restoration