Editorial: Leadville’s pending crisis | VailDaily.com

Editorial: Leadville’s pending crisis

Austin Richardson
Vail Daily Editorial Board
Vail, CO Colorado

It’s no surprise that the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel is causing such an uproar. With snowpack at 163 percent in the mining district, the cause for concern is mounting.

Basically what’s happening is that water from the mining district is collecting in a series of abandoned mine shafts. It is estimated that up to one billion gallons of contaminated water lies in the lattice of abandoned mines above Leadville. This water flows toward a treatment facility, which processes the water and sends it to the headwaters of the Arkansas River, just north of Leadville.

The latest in Leadville is that there is so much snow in the mining district, there’s a chance the pressure from so much water will blow out the tunnel, causing a huge environmental disaster. The concern is that the water is building up much faster than the contaminated water can be processed.

Should the dam break, the East Fork Trailer Park ” located just off Highway 91, about one mile north of Leadville ” would probably be wiped out immediately. And although the loss of this neighborhood would be tragic, the greater damage would be done to the wildlife, ecology and drinking water of the Arkansas River for miles downstream.

Lake County Commissioners have declared an emergency in hopes that state and federal funds can be freed to help take care of the problem.

Our hope is that the government take care of this situation, ensuring the citizens of Leadville and communities downstream on the Arkansas River, a safe and ecologically sound river.

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