Restoration: ‘When you put a hole in a mountain, it would fill up with water’ — Mike Holmes (EPA)

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From the Valley Courier (Lauren Krizansky):

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency officials presented the Willow Creek Reclamation Committee, a Creede grassroots mining waste clean-up group, the findings and conclusions of its December 2011 Nelson Tunnel/Commodore Waste Rock Pile Site report.

“We are still not seeing the water quality improve in the Rio Grande,” said EPA Environmental Protection Agency Project Manager Mike Holmes in the Creede Town hall meeting room. “For the old miners, the biggest problem was water. When you put a hole in a mountain, it would fill up with water. That is the problem that we are still dealing with today.”

Water passing through the site enters Willow Creek, flows through flood plains and spills into the Rio Grande. The EPA has concluded in order to lower zinc and cadmium levels in the Rio Grande, the water passing through the site must either undergo treatment or reroute through new hydrology.

“We won’t magically make up water quality standards in the Rio Grande,” said EPA Hydrologist Mike Wireman. “But it is something we should do.”

The site feeds 150 to 250 gallons of water a minute into the Rio Grande and contributes less than 50 percent of the river’s contaminated minerals.

More restoration coverage here.

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