Colorado’s old gold mines could be tapped for water

Colorado’s old gold mines could be tapped for water

Source: Mountain West News
Click here to read the article:

The hunt for more water to sustain the Colorado Front Range development boom has driven metro Denver suppliers to try to tap a new source: defunct mountain gold mines.

Aurora Water officials on Thursday revealed they’re pursuing a $125 million purchase of underground water at the London Mine complex south of Breckenridge. Discharges from that mine for years have contaminated Denver’s and Aurora’s South Park watershed with cancer-causing cadmium and fish-killing zinc.

The deal, if Aurora council members approve it, would give Aurora up to 5,400 acre-feet of fresh water — enough for 30,000 new residents. Aurora Water would pump the water up from an underground reservoir that holds 100,000 acre-feet of water beneath the mine, perched along the Continental Divide, using two 1,000-feet-deep stainless steel wells.

Utility officials reckon that, by lowering the clean water in that reservoir and preventing it from reaching exposed rock in mine tunnels, which creates a sulfuric acid mix that leaches out cadmium and zinc, Aurora could prevent further degradation of streams and fish life.

“We definitely, for future growth, need to acquire water,” Aurora Water director Marshall Brown said Thursday in a Denver Post interview with his team and owners of the mine.

“This is innovative. It is a water supply that historically has not been tapped by water suppliers. The easier supplies are gone. We are left with more difficult supplies,” Brown said.

“It’s an opportunity to take advantage of an available supply — a win-win both for the municipality and for the environment.”