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PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Shauna Evans Dec. 4, 2019 […]
From RiverOfLostSouls.com (Jonathan Thompson):
While going down a wormhole the other day, I stumbled across a variety of documents on the Gold King Mine on the wonderful Mountain Scholar site. It was an exciting find for me because:
I had never seen these documents before, and I’ve seen a heck of a lot of Gold King documents; and, These date back to between 1917 and 1925 — long after the mine’s heyday. Because the mine was struggling during this time, there wasn’t a lot of press in the local newspapers about it; and, They contain the best mine cross-section diagram that I’ve seen from the days that the mine was still active.
In other words, it’s just an additional handful of esoteric ore to add to the pile. But more than that, these documents are important because they could help answer the enduring question: From where does the water now draining from the Gold King Mine originate? To understand why the answer to that question is critical — and why it’s so hard to come by — you’ll have to read my book.
What we do know is that prior to the plugging of the American Tunnel by the Sunnyside Gold Co. with three bulkheads placed in 1996, 2001, and 2003, the Gold King Mine Level #7 was dry. Sometime after the bulkheads were placed, the Gold King adit (opening to the mine) began draining increasing amounts of acidic, metal-loaded water. It was this same water that came gushing out on that fateful day in August 2015.
It may seem like an open-and-shut case in which Sunnyside’s bulkheads are causing water that had drained from the American Tunnel to back up inside the mountain and enter into the Gold King Mine. And it is. But what is not known is which bulkhead(s) is/are causing the problem. And only when we know that will we know whose water is ending up in the Gold King Mine. Is it leaking in from the Sunnyside Mine pool? Or is it water that would have ended up in the Gold King Mine prior to the construction of the American Tunnel in the early 1900s?
It’s complicated, in other words, and explaining all of the intricacies would take, well, a book.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find the answer in these new (to me) documents, although there were a few small clues. I did managed to glean a few nuggets from the reports, however, such as:
I had read in other documents that the Gold King folks had drilled the American Tunnel into Bonita Peak some 6,225 feet before work was halted. But the pictured map from 1918 says the tunnel was 7,000 feet deep at the time (which would have put it directly under the Gold King). Colorado mining reports indicated that the mine last produced ore in 1924 before shutting down altogether. But among these papers was a receipt apparently showing a shipment in December 1925. And, finally, the clue to the aforementioned mystery. Though it’s a bit tangled, the text pictured below (from 1923) indicates that there was a lot of water encountered in Level #7 at one time, and that the water, instead of draining out of the Level #7 adit, was apparently “deep drained” by the American Tunnel. This lends more support to the notion that the water now draining out of the Gold King is “Gold King water,” rather than “Sunnyside water.”
Pick up your copy of River of Lost Souls: The Science, Politics, and Greed Behind the Gold King Mine Disaster (Torrey House Press, 2018) today, and get the full story of the Gold King Mine and a whole lot more.
“(Thompson) combines science, law, metallurgy, water pollution, bar fights and the occasional murder into one of the best books written about the Southwest in years.”
— Andrew Gulliford, historian and writer, in The Gulch magazine.
From the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (Megan Holcomb/Tracy Kosloff):
Water Year 2019 was characterized by a near average temperature and was the 34th wettest year in a 125-year period. Multiple state records were established in 2019, such as the March 13th bomb cyclone, the July 19th 115°F record at John Martin Dam, and the August 13th hail storm over eastern Colorado.
The start of Water Year 2020 (WY2020) saw dramatic temperature swings statewide: from the warmest September on record (Sep. 2019) to the 4th coldest October on record (Oct. 2019), marking one of the largest rank jumps on record and one of the state’s biggest changes in monthly average temperature. Grand Junction experienced the coolest Oct. on record while Alamosa and Pueblo experienced the 2nd coolest Oct. on record.
The 90-day Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) from August 26 – November 23 shows notable precipitation deficits in the western half of the state. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, released November 21, D0 (abnormally dry), D1 (moderate drought), and D2 (severe drought) collectively cover 75% of Colorado. Compared to the start of the Water Year 2020 (Oct. 1) the drought monitor shows degregations of 1-2 classes in the southern and western quadrants of the state. The long term ENSO forecasts are trending toward neutral conditions remaining into the summer (entirety of WY2020). With no El Niño or La Niña forecast to dominate large-scale patterns, the outlook remains a bit more uncertain for the winter. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center shows warmer than average temperature outlooks December through February, and near-normal precipitation outlooks for the majority of the state. Northern basins may lean toward slightly above average precipitation these next three months. Reservoir storage remains near to above normal (95 to 126% of average) in all major basins and is 109% of average statewide. Water providers and water users did not report any unusual impacts or concerns at this time.
Images from the Colorado Outdoors annual photography issue…Colorado Outdoors is published six times a year by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. To order Colorado Outdoors call 1-800-417-8986.