Lake Fork of the Arkansas River: Cleanup efforts

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Here’s a look at cleanup efforts along the Lake Fork of the Arkansas River and “good samaritan” legislation the supporters contend would lead to a greater cleanup effort, from Katie Redding writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:

…members of the Lake Fork Watershed Working Group point out the strides they have taken to improve the watershed. Before the group started its clean-up efforts, the water at the confluence of the Lake Fork River and the Arkansas River did not meet Colorado water quality standards, even though the EPA had spent millions of dollars cleaning the river just upstream. Data showed the heavy metals from the Sugarloaf Mining District were carried up to 100 miles downstream along the Arkansas River, a waterway popular among boaters and fishermen, and used as a water source for Aurora, Pueblo and Colorado Springs. Since then, members of the watershed group have moved many tailing piles out of drainage paths and into repositories. This fall, they plugged the Dinero Tunnel, to keep it from continuing to release toxic water. At the Tiger Tunnel, where the rock isn’t strong enough for a plug, the group has plans to build a “sulfate-reducing bioreactor” next summer — an artificially constructed wetland that will reduce the heavy metals and acidity of the water. But the true benefits may not be apparent for a few more years, as insects, fish and wildlife start to return to drainages formerly too toxic for them. “It takes time for rivers to improve themselves,” Russell said.

More restoration coverage here.

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