Posted on January 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Pollution from an abandoned mine turned the Blue River bright orange in April 2006. Bob Berwyn photo.
Public event planned Jan. 18 near Breckenridge
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Around the West, there are thousands of abandoned mines polluting streams and killing fish, and many volunteer cleanup efforts have been stymied by strict Clean Water Act liability provisions.
Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) for years has been working with the EPA to try and make it easier for Good Samaritan groups to tackle remediation projects without taking on responsibility for future pollution. Those efforts showed results in December, when the EPA issued new guidance specifying that Good Samaritans are generally not responsible for obtaining a Clean Water Act permit during or after a successful cleanup conducted according to a Good Samaritan agreement with EPA. Read the memo here.
Udall will be in Summit County Friday (Jan. 18) along with EPA Regional Administrator Jim Martin to discuss the new policy and the public is invited to attend the event, set for 11 a.m. at the Iron Springs Mill off Boreas Pass Road. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Summit County news | Tagged: abandoned mines, acid mine drainage, Colorado, Environment, EPA, good samaritan cleanups, Mark Udall, water pollution, water quality | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Nature mitigates its own impacts
Young trees and brush are increasing their nitrogen uptake in the wake of the pine beetle infestation, helping to minimize impacts to water quality. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Early fears that the bark beetle epidemic could degrade water quality are proving unfounded, according to CU-Boulder scientists, who said smaller trees and undergrowth that survive the epidemic have increased their uptake of nitrogen as the older trees die.
While logging or damaging storms can drive stream nitrate concentrations up by 400 percent for multiple years, the team found no significant increase in the nitrate concentrations following extensive pine beetle tree mortality in a number of Colorado study areas, according to CU-Boulder Professor William Lewis. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles | Tagged: Colorado, CU Boulder, Environment, forests, pine beetles, water quality | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
The proliferation of oil and gas drilling in Colorado raises serious questions about water quality impacts. Photo courtesy SkyTruth.
State officials claim new rules are pioneering; conservation advocates say rule-making ignored science
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Colorado officials are touting new groundwater protection rules as a pioneering step in the regulation of of oil and gas drilling, but conservation groups say the requirements don’t do enough to protect public health and water quality.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission this week approved the regulations after months of stakeholder discussions with the goal of protecting well owners and the industry. The rules require drilling companies to sample nearby water wells both before and after drilling. Only two other states have mandatory groundwater programs in place and no other state in the country requires operators to take post-drilling water samples. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Colorado, Environment, fracking, groundwater, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 10, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Aquatic diversity diminishes quickly
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Streams are much more sensitive to development impacts than previously believed, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. The research shows that loss of sensitive species in streams starts at the initial stages of urban development. For example, by the time urban development had approached 20 percent in watersheds in the New England area, the aquatic invertebrate community had undergone a change in species composition of about 25 percent. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water, wetlands | Tagged: Environment, streams and rivers, urban development, USGS, water quality | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 15, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Many southwest Colorado residents are saying no thanks to uranium mining and milling in their region.
Hearing starts Oct. 15 for what would be the country’s first new uranium mill in 30 years
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — After a start-stop permitting procedure for a proposed uranium mill in southwestern Colorado was marred by inadequate public hearings, state officials will once again take input in formal proceedings starting Oct. 15.
This time, a judge has given three conservation groups formal standing for the hearings, which means that environmental advocates will be able to introduce evidence, testify and cross-examine witnesses.
The Piñon Ridge mill is proposed for the Paradox Valley, in southwestern Colorado near the Dolores River. The three groups — Rocky Mountain Wild, Colorado Environmental Coalition and the Center for Biological Diversity — will join the towns of Telluride, Ophir, and San Miguel County in voicing concerns about the proposed mill’s threats to air, water, wildlife and tourism. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, endangered species, energy, Environment | Tagged: Colorado, Environment, Pinon Ridge Uranium mill, radiation, Telluride, uranium mining, water quality | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 23, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Carbon nanotube schematic, courtesy the Wikimedia Commons.
Researchers urge caution in manufacturing, stepping up waste management oversight
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Carbon nanotubes, valuable for strengthening industrial and recreational products, can kill aquatic organisms, according to University of Alaska and U.S. Geological Survey researchers, who said it’s important to guard against release of the materials into the environment as the materials enter mass production.
“The great promise of carbon nanotubes must be balanced with caution and preparation,” said Baolin Deng, professor and chair of chemical engineering at the University of Missouri. “We don’t know enough about their effects on the environment and human health. The EPA and other regulatory groups need more studies like ours to provide information on the safety of CNTs.” (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, world news | Tagged: carbon nanotubes, Environment, nanotechnology, United States Geological Survey, University of Missouri, water quality | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 15, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Legal battles over uranium mining in Colorado continue.
Canadian company tries to overturn state rules
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Efforts by a Canadian mining company to bully Colorado came to naught last week, as Denver District Court Judge Christina Habas upheld state regulations that protect water from in situ leach uranium mining impacts.
In its lawsuit against the state, Powertech Uranium Corp. claimed that the Colorado exceeded its legal authority and that adoption of the rules was arbitrary and capricious.
By dismissing the lawsuit, the court also ensured that local communities will have a chance to be involved in the permitting of uranium mines.
“The Colorado uranium mining industry is wrong to keep fighting water quality protections and better public involvement,” said Western Mining Action Project attorney Jeff Parsons, who represented local communities that intervened on the side of the State in defending the rules against the Powertech lawsuit. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment | Tagged: Colorado, Environment, Powertech Uranium Corp, uranium mining, water quality | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 23, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Abandoned mine cleanup planned to reduce toxic heavy metals loading
Toxic devastation at the abandoned Saints John Mine in Summit County, Colorado.
Sterile ponds below the abandoned Saints John Mine.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — As the first hard rock silver mine in Colorado, the Saints John Mine, above Montezuma, helped fuel the state’s rush to riches during what’s now a legendary era.
But inevitably, the mines played out and the miners moved on. leaving behind a toxic legacy that’s not unique to Saints John. Across the West, thousands of streams and lakes suffered a similar fate.
Beautiful as Saints John Creek may look, it’s heavily polluted with cadmium, copper, lead and zinc that leaches into the water from weathered waste rock and from the underground workings of the former mine. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Summit County news | Tagged: acid mine drainage, Colorado, Environment, Montezuma Colorado, pollution, Saints John Mine, water quality | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 23, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A proposed new Colorado rule setting limits on nitrogen and phosphorus will help protect water quality.
Proposed rule still subject to hearings and final EPA approval
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Twenty years after the Clean Water Act was amended to address organic pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus, Colorado is moving to limit the discharge of those nutrients, which lead to vexing water quality issues in lakes and streams.
“Phosphorus and nitrogen are incredibly prevalent. They’re in animal waste, human waste, fertilizer, and we’ve ignored it for 20 years,” said Becky Long, water caucus coordinator for the Colorado Environmental Coalition.
If left unaddressed the pollution causes algae blooms and dead zones in waterways, impacting aquatic wildlife and Colorado’s outdoor recreation opportunities.
Long said she’s encouraged by the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission’s early support for the new standards limiting nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. The rule is still subject to challenge at subsequent hearings, as well EPA review and final approval.
Long said the standards go beyond simply protecting aquatic life and human health by addressing potential impacts to recreation. More details at the EPA’s nutrient pollution web page. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Summit County news, water | Tagged: Clean Water Act, Colorado, Colorado nitrogen and phosphorus rule, nutrient pollution, United States Environmental Protection Agency, water quality | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Warning signs for the Blue River's gold medal trout fishery.
Climate, weather and trout …
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —Holiday periods like the week between Christmas and New Years are often considered to be slow news periods, when government offices are relatively quiet and, well, there’s not really that much going on. As a result, it can also be a slow time, to say the least, for news-oriented websites, unless you’re peddling stories about the latest celebrity peccadilloes. But in an encouraging sign that good content can trump trends, a couple climate-related stories at Summit Voice picked more than 1,000 page views each, while another piece on the restoration of wolves to the Greater Yellowstone ecoystem also was widely read. Click on the headlines to read the top stories, and don’t forget to use the buttons at the end to share them via your own social media network.
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, global warming, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news | Tagged: climate, Colorado news, Environment, global warming, La Niña, water quality | Leave a Comment »