USGS: Analysis of Water Quality in the Blue River Watershed, Colorado, 1984 through 2007

August 26, 2014
Blue River

Blue River

Here’s the release from the United States Geological Service (Nancy J. Bauch, Lisa D. Miller, and Sharon Yacob):

Water quality of streams, reservoirs, and groundwater in the Blue River watershed in the central Rocky Mountains of Colorado has been affected by local geologic conditions, historical hard-rock metal mining, and recent urban development. With these considerations, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Summit Water Quality Committee, conducted a study to compile historical water-quality data and assess water-quality conditions in the watershed. To assess water-quality conditions, stream data were primarily analyzed from October 1995 through December 2006, groundwater data from May 1996 through September 2004, and reservoir data from May 1984 through November 2007. Stream data for the Snake River, upper Blue River, and Tenmile Creek subwatersheds upstream from Dillon Reservoir and the lower Blue River watershed downstream from Dillon Reservoir were analyzed separately. (The complete abstract is provided in the report)

Click here to read the report.

More USGS coverage here.


Summit County buys mining claims near Montezuma to protect land — Summit Daily News

August 25, 2014

Snake River

Snake River


From the Summit Daily News (Alli Langley/Joe Moylan) via the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

During the silver mining boom of the 1870s, with a population of just 71, Sts. John was for a short time Summit County’s largest town.

The Summit County Open Space and Trails Department recently bought the abandoned townsite and nearby mining claims for $425,000 from the Tolen family, which owned land in the area since the 1950s.

The purchase, finalized July 28, conserves about 90 acres in the Snake River Basin above the town of Montezuma as public open space. The 18 separate parcels have significant wildlife value, according to the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, the U.S. Forest Service and the Snake River Master Plan.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Tolen family for working closely with the Summit County Open Space program to preserve the heritage of Sts. John and this exquisite landscape for the enjoyment of Summit County citizens and visitors alike,” said Brian Lorch, the program’s director. “This is one of the most important and significant acquisitions the program has made in recent years.”

The county acquired the properties using the Summit County Open Space fund, approved by voters in 2008. Breckenridge Ski Resort contributed $25,000 toward the purchase as part of a deal with environmental groups worried about the impacts of the recent Peak 6 development.

With the acquisition, the county will protect a large portion of the Snake River Basin backcountry and preserve a piece of Summit County history. Lorch said the Sts. John properties are highly valued for their intact historic resources, popularity for outdoor recreation and high-quality wetlands and wildlife habitat…

The Summit County Open Space program acquires lands to protect the scenic beauty, natural habitat, backcountry character and recreational opportunities in Summit County. Funded through property tax mill levies approved by Wvoters in 1993, 1999, 2003 and 2008, the program has protected more than 14,000 acres of open space.

More Blue River watershed coverage here.


Eagle River Watershed Council event (Tuesday, August 26): 30 Years Later – an Eagle Mine Update

August 21, 2014

Eagle Mine

Eagle Mine


From the Eagle River Watershed Council:

For years, the abandoned Eagle Mine dominated all conversation surrounding water in Eagle County. Much progress has been made to clean up the mine – and the Eagle River flowing through the area – since its closure in 1984 and subsequent listing by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a Superfund site.

The legacy of pollution from the mine, however, is an indefinite one. What is the status of the mine today, three decades later? And what plans are in place for the future of the mine cleanup?

Mr. Russell Cepko, Vice President of Environmental Projects for CBS, will provide answers to these questions and more. As the owner of the mine site, CBS is responsible for administering the cleanup effort. We will also hear from Seth Mason, ERWC’s Water Quality Programs Director about the history of water quality impacts, regulatory action and ongoing concerns among local stakeholders.


Barr-Milton Watershed Association video: EPA Urban Waters Grant #SouthPlatte

August 21, 2014


The latest newsletter from the Middle Colorado Watershed Council is hot off the presses #ColoradoRiver

August 18, 2014

Typical water well

Typical water well


Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Mark your calendars for a Drinking Water Well hands-on workshop on September 3rd from 5:30 to 7:00 PM hosted by the Middle Colorado Watershed Council. This evening event is designed to assist private land owners in insuring their wells are operable and clean. The workshop will cover:

  • Where does your water come from?
  • Basic well construction and components
  • Land use impacts on domestic well water quality and quantity
  • Naturally occurring contaminants
  • Treatment issues related to domestic wells and water quality
  • Well head protection and well-owner operation and maintenance tips
  • How to sample your well water, what to sample for, and where to find a laboratory.
  • More groundwater coverage here.


    Analysis: Thompson Divide waters ‘healthy, uncontaminated’ — Glenwood Springs Post Independent

    August 15, 2014
    Thompson Creek via the Summit County Citizens Voice

    Thompson Creek via the Summit County Citizens Voice

    From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent (John Stroud:

    A second round of baseline water quality testing within the Thompson Divide region south of Glenwood Springs where natural gas development is proposed finds that two of the major drainages where samples were taken are presently “uncontaminated by any human activities.”

    The study, released Thursday by the Thompson Divide Coalition, analyzed both surface and ground water within the Four Mile and Thompson Creek watersheds.

    It is in follow-up to the first phase of the study in 2009-10, which produced similar results. Both studies were commissioned by the coalition, which is working to protect the Thompson Divide region from drilling, and were conducted by researchers from the Roaring Fork Conservancy.

    Robert Moran, a water quality, hydrogeologic and geochemical specialist with Michael-Moran Associates, worked with the conservancy to analyze the data and is the main author of both reports.

    Together, the baseline data contained in the studies should provide a yardstick against any changes in water quality within the two drainages, whether it’s from oil and gas development or other activities, Moran said during a telephone press conference Thursday arranged by Thompson Divide Coalition Executive Director Zane Kessler.

    Moran also reiterated one conclusion in his analysis, which is that “some degradation of water quality is inevitable if oil and gas exploration and development becomes a reality within the Four Mile Creek and Thompson Creek watersheds.”

    “This should serve as an important reminder that our fisheries and watersheds in the Thompson Divide are at risk,” Kessler said. “These watersheds are the lifeblood of our communities and they deserve to be protected for posterity.”

    More Roaring Fork River watershed coverage here.


    The EPA has finished mercury-decontamination efforts at the Red Arrow Gold Corp. mill site on Grand Ave. in Mancos

    August 14, 2014

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