Loretta Pineda, director of Colorado’s Division of Mining Reclamation and Safety on Cotter Corp and the Schwartzwalder Mine: ‘I want to get this remediated. If Cotter wants to continue to fight this in court, that’s up to them’

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

“I want to get this remediated. If Cotter wants to continue to fight this in court, that’s up to them,” said Loretta Pineda, director of Colorado’s Division of Mining Reclamation and Safety. “We’re rapidly losing another construction season. … Cotter could at least be doing work on a diversion.”[…]

Cotter last year filed a lawsuit accusing regulators of abusing their discretion with orders to clean up Schwartzwalder. But Friday, a Denver District Court judge ruled that Colorado’s Mined Land Reclamation Board was correct to order the de-watering of the 2,000-foot mine shaft and impose penalties. Earlier in the week, state health officials ordered Cotter to divert creek water around the mine and find the source of the contamination.

Buoyed by the Friday ruling, state regulators met with state Attorney General John Suthers’ staff Monday about their possible next steps…

In 2007, a state mining inspector detected the water contamination. About two years ago, the state officials began raising concerns, and last year they started pressing for a cleanup. Cotter has argued that toxic groundwater filling its 2,000-foot-deep mine shaft is not connected to Ralston Creek.

The health department order last week would require Cotter to install a concrete wall and to funnel water into a pipe that would carry Ralston Creek around the mine and then, below the mine, back toward Ralston Reservoir. It’s a temporary solution until a pump-and-treat operation is set up…

…state law requires companies to post sufficient bond money to guarantee that cleanup work will be done without falling to taxpayers. But the bond posted for Schwartzwalder is not enough to cover costs of pumping and treating uranium-laced water from the mine, state mining inspector Tony Waldron said. State officials said they’ll press now for a larger bond as well as de-watering of the mine.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

Neil Grigg on private sector forays into water: ‘They run into regulation that sabotages their plans, and then have left…A lot of them have come and gone’

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“I think people get interested in water and try to get into it with plans that seem to make sense,” said Neil Grigg, an engineering professor at CSU. “They run into regulation that sabotages their plans, and then have left. A lot of them have come and gone.”

Grigg has just published “Water Finance, Public Responsibilities and Private Opportunities,” a book that explores the worldwide water business from home plumbing to dam building. Many of the issues in the book apply to what is happening in Colorado because of competing uses for a limited supply of water.

Grigg — who has years of experience as a water researcher, policymaker, administrator and consultant — portrays the water industry as a spectrum ranging from a central water authority to a free market, saying water in Colorado falls somewhere in between.

Private developers are planning larger projects than in the past because government resources to build and maintain projects have been depleted. “Large private companies are operating around the world,” Grigg said. “Water has become a commodity, with these companies buying and selling water, and wheeling it to different places.”[…]

A quick Internet search turned up two dozen water marketers in the state, ranging from real estate agents ready to bargain with water rights to entrepreneurs, including former Gov. Bill Owens, who are trying to peddle a single-source supply…

“Global hunger and the aspirations of billions of people for better diets mean that the requirements for irrigation water will not diminish, but will increase.”

More infrastructure coverage here.