Aquatic Nuisances Species

Your Water Colorado Blog

Aquatic nuisance species (ANS), plants and animals that invade lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams, pose an increasing threat to Colorado’s water resources. The major threat is from zebra and quagga mussels invading water bodies across the state. Other nuisance species include New Zealand mudsnails and rusty crayfish. Colorado Parks and Wildlife has an inspection protocol in place since 2009 that has prevented the establishment and spread of ANS. The challenge is to develop stable annual funding sources to sustain the successful Colorado inspection program which has set the standard in the West for prevention of these invasives.

Mussels are small yet mighty. They can pose a threat to native aquatic life as they are tougher and will outcompete native species for necessary resources such as shelter, food and water. This causes a decrease in biodiversity, especially since these invasive species don’t have predators to keep them in check once they…

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Forget iron — let’s pump some water – News on TAP

Gravity delivers water to about 60 percent of Denver Water’s potable water customers. Pump stations do the rest.

Source: Forget iron — let’s pump some water – News on TAP

10 problems. 10 days. 10 big thinkers. – News on TAP

Non-profit initiative brings entrepreneurs to Denver to tackle tough problems — including water.

Source: 10 problems. 10 days. 10 big thinkers. – News on TAP

#AnimasRiver: Lead pollution at Bonita Peak Mining District superfund site

On April 7, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed adding the “Bonita Peak Mining District” to the National Priorities List, making it eligible for Superfund. Forty-eight mine portals and tailings piles are “under consideration” to be included. The Gold King Mine will almost certainly be on the final list, as will the nearby American Tunnel. The Mayflower Mill #4 tailings repository, just outside Silverton, is another likely candidate, given that it appears to be leaching large quantities of metals into the Animas River. What Superfund will entail for the area beyond that, and when the actual cleanup will begin, remains unclear.
Eric Baker

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

This lead and dozens of other contaminants are spreading beyond waste-rock piles into surrounding “halos” where they are absorbed by plants and then can be ingested by bugs and transferred from the insects to birds to, ultimately, mammals. EPA officials said tissue samples from deer will be tested to assess ecological harm.

“You start to understand the scope of the environmental problem and how long this is going to take,” EPA Superfund project chief Rebecca Thomas said after a town hall meeting this week in Silverton. “It is pretty overwhelming.

“We don’t really have an active mining industry in this state anymore. Yet we still see so many impacts. And we’re just looking at the Bonita Peak Mining District in the San Juan Mountains. Think how much more widespread it is across the Rocky Mountain West. It’s a big problem. It’s going to take many years to solve it — and a lot of money.”

The lead, measured at concentrations up to 5,000 parts per million, surfaced in the latest round of sampling and study that were spurred by a federal declaration last year of a Superfund environmental disaster linked to the 2015 Gold King Mine spill that turned the Animas River mustard-yellow through three states.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has said Superfund cleanups will be the EPA’s priority, even as he and other Republicans push to trim the agency’s $8 billion budget, because Americans deserve to have environmental harm fixed as required by law.

From The Durango Herald (Jonathan Romeo):

A recent Denver Post article is being called misleading and inaccurate for overstating the risks to wildlife from mine contamination around a Superfund site near Silverton.

“The statement that EPA crews found that lead is threatening birds and animals is not accurate,” Environmental Protection Agency project manager Rebecca Thomas wrote in an email Friday. “The terrestrial risk assessment is ongoing and no conclusions have been reached.”

Around 7 p.m. Thursday, The Denver Post sent a “Breaking News Alert” for a story titled “EPA crews working on Gold King cleanup find elevated lead threatening birds, animals and, potentially, people.”

In the story, the Post draws the conclusion based on a presentation the EPA gave Monday, in which the agency said preliminary sampling of soils around the Superfund site found levels of lead at some locations at 5,000 parts per million.

The Post said these levels are 100 times higher than “danger thresholds for wildlife.”

However, EPA had said this data had not been validated.

“The statement regarding ‘danger thresholds’ for wildlife in The Denver Post story is misleading,” Thomas said. “At this point, we are looking at very conservative screening values in assessing potential risk.”

San Juan County Commissioner Scott Fetchenheir, a former miner and geologist who is quoted in the Post article, also took issue with the story.

“I tried to explain that to (the reporter) and he just didn’t get it,” Fetchenheir said. “He had his mind made up there’s going to be lead problems.”

#ClimateChange: How do we know? — @NASA

This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.)

Here’s the NASA Website about the science behind climate change. Here’s an excerpt:

The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.

The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.

Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.
– Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.

Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate.

The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century. Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA. There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.

Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.

@EPA and the State of Colorado release plans to protect water quality, enable land reuse at the Eagle Mine Superfund Site

Eagle Mine

Here’s the release from the Environmental Protection Agency (Richard Mylott):

Actions build upon prior cleanup efforts

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) have released two final Records of Decision for environmental remediation at the Eagle Mine Superfund Site in Eagle County, Colorado, following the consideration of input received through a public comment process. Both documents, specifying measures to protect water quality and facilitate site reuse, focus on further reducing exposure to heavy metal contamination created by nearly one-hundred years of mining activity at the site.

“These actions reflect both EPA’s and CDPHE’s commitment to efficiently evaluate conditions and protect human health and the environment at the Eagle Mine Superfund Site,” said EPA Assistant Regional Administrator Betsy Smidinger. “Together, we are strengthening the water quality improvements we have achieved in the Eagle River and providing opportunities to bring lands back into safe, productive reuse. EPA remains committed to improving environmental conditions and human health for Americans that live and work near Superfund sites.”

The amended Record of Decision finalized for Operable Unit 1 (OU1) at the Eagle Mine Superfund Site adopts site-specific arsenic remedial goals and modifies surface water cleanup levels for cadmium, copper and zinc to meet more recent standards established for the site by the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission in 2008. Water quality monitoring in the Eagle River indicates that these standards for cadmium, copper and zinc are not attained in March and April of most years. The OU1 Record of Decision requires institutional controls to protect existing remedial features and expands the current groundwater collection system in Belden and at the mouth of Rock Creek to further reduce metals loading to the Eagle River.

EPA and CDPHE have also finalized a separate Record of Decision for Operable Unit 3 (OU3) focused on soil remediation necessary to protect human health should future residential development occur. EPA created OU3 after a developer purchased a large portion of the Eagle Mine Superfund Site in 2004 with plans to develop the property into a private, residential community. The Record of Decision for OU3 includes a combination of the following elements for areas proposed for development: excavating soil; placing a soil exposure barrier; grading the site; placing institutional controls and conducting monitoring; and/or demolishing structures.

The Eagle Mine Superfund Site is located in Eagle County, Colorado. The site is defined as the area impacted by past mining activity along and including the Eagle River between the towns of Red Cliff and Minturn. Mining activities at the Eagle Mine began in 1879 and continued until 1984. EPA listed the site on the National Priorities List (NPL), commonly known as the list of Superfund Sites, in 1986 because of the mine metals discharge, uncontrolled mine waste piles and the close proximity of the population to the mine and associated features. To better manage the site, EPA divided it into operable units.

EPA and CDPHE issued a final Record of Decision for the Eagle Mine Superfund Site in 1993. Over the years, all required environmental cleanup work has occurred at the site under a number of state and federal directives. EPA declared all cleanup construction activities complete at the site in 2001. Remediation conducted to-date has resulted in significant improvement in water quality and reduction in risk to human health and the environment. Continued operation of the existing remedy, including drawdown from the mine pool and treatment at the water treatment plant, is required to maintain this condition. Contaminant concentrations in surface water and groundwater have decreased significantly, and the aquatic ecosystem continues to show signs of recovery.

For more information about the Eagle Mine Superfund Site, please contact: Ms. Wendy Naugle, On-Site Coordinator, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, Denver, CO 80246, Wendy.naugle@co.state.co.us, or Ms. Jamie Miller, Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, CO 80202, miller.jamie@epa.gov

You can also visit one of the following Websites: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/eagle-mine, https://www.epa.gov/superfund/eagle-mine