Eagle Mine pond floods Highway 24 near Minturn | VailDaily.com

Eagle Mine pond floods Highway 24 near Minturn

Dustin Racioppi
Minturn, CO Colorado
Dustin Racioppi/Vail DailyColorado Department of Transportation workers dig a trench to drain water that overflowed from a pond at the Eagle Mine Water Treatment Plant to Highway 24 just outside Minturn, Colorado.

MINTURN, Colorado” Nearly a half-foot of water that overflowed from a surge pond at the Eagle Mine Water Treatment Plant flooded a portion of Highway 24 early Thursday morning near Minturn, Colorado.

By 2 p.m. the road was clear, but concerns lingered into the afternoon considering the source of the flood.

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment spokesman Warren Smith said the pond that overflowed is normally used to hold contaminated water until it heads to the treatment plant. Initially, Smith was told by the plant operator that the water that overflowed was melted snow ” which it was ” but the pH levels didn’t show that the snow wasn’t necessarily contaminated.

Preliminary tests showed a pH level of 6. Smith said the allowed level is between 6.5 and 9.

“It’s more acidic than we want it to be,” Smith said.

There’s no cause for alarm, though, he added.

“It is not a health risk for humans,” he said.

It could be a risk for fish, he said. But testing will continue the next couple days to determine the levels and type of metals that may have been in the water.

After spending all night removing a massive boulder from Highway 24, Colorado Department of Transportation employees were deployed to the same area just a few hours later.

Employee Andy Garcia said he got the phone call about the flood at around 5:15 a.m. He and three others then spent the next six hours with shovels digging a trench on the west side of the highway, about one-half mile past the entrance to Maloit Park.

They didn’t seem to care where the water was coming from, either. They just wanted to get it cleared from the road.

“Some place up west,” Garcia said, describing where the water was from.

No cars were damaged or people were affected by the flood that covered about a quarter-mile of the road, said employee Jim Achatz.

“They just had to go a little bit slower,” he said.

Smith said the department will continue to investigate the flood. He said the two good signs are that it isn’t harmful to people and the liner of the pond is still intact ” meaning it’s highly unlikely the pond will overflow again.

Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or dracioppi@vaildaily.com.

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