initial funding from the University of Colorado's Outreach Committee, we
are have been assisting the Lefthand Watershed Oversight Group (LWOG) in
assessing the amount of location of metal inputs to the streams of the
Lefthand Creek watershed. The watershed is
located in northwestern Boulder County, near the towns of Ward and
Jamestown in the area of the historic Jamestown Mining District.
The residents of Ward and Jamestown essentially live on the
waste rock and mill tailings of the abandoned mines, which include the
Big Five Tunnel and Captain Jack Mill (now
a Superfund site
being cleaned up by the
state) and Slide mines along Lefthand Creek,
the Golden Age, Fair Day, and John Jay Mines along James Creek, and the Bueno, Burlington, Emmit,
Argo, and Evening Star Mines along Little James Creek.
Hand Watershed Task Force, sponsored by Boulder County, put
considerable effort into summarizing current knowledge of mine waste
impacts in the Left Hand Watershed in its 2002 report, the Left Hand
Watershed Task Force Final
Report to the Boulder County Board of Health (the report is
available in sections; here is a full report,
a 4.4 MByte pdf file).
Our research has
focused on the sources of metals -- mainly copper,
lead, and zinc -- in the watershed. To do this, we
have conducted metal
loading tracer tests pioneered by the U.S. Geological Survey for
their Abandoned Mine Lands
Initiative. For these tracer tests, a salt for which stream
transport is essentially conservative (e.g., lithium
chloride, sodium bromide) is steadily injected at an upstream injection point and its
arrival at some downstream point is monitored by specific
conductance. Dilution of the salt concentration along the stream
is used to determine stream discharge. Once the stream contains a
constantly-injected amount of the salt, a synoptic sampling is performed
between the upstream injection point and the downstream monitoring
point. The synoptic sampling is a "snapshot" (with the
samples collected as quickly as possible) of the salt and metal
concentration in the stream.
We have now performed these tests on
over 50 km of streams in the Lefthand Creek watershed and produced a
comprehensive report of
the sources of metals. This report was used by LWOG to create the
Lefthand Creek Watershed Plan. More reports will be issued in
the near future on metals in waste rock piles, streambed sediments, and
benthic macroinvertebrates in the watershed.
As part of the
Lefthand Watershed Revitalization team, Joe Ryan and Alice Wood, who
completed her Master's thesis on metals in the Lefthand Creek watershed
in 2004, and who served as the LWOG coordinator for its first two years,
were honored with the EPA's
National Notable Achievement Award for "Cross-Program Revitalization
Team Award" in April 2006. The award recognized $8 million of
collaborative remediation that will result in the cleanup of most of the
significant sources of metals in the watershed.
- Relating Bioavailability of
Metals to Metal Speciation and Colloid Nature and Abundance in
Mountain Streams Contaminated by Acid Mine Drainage in Northwestern
Boulder County, Colorado, University of Colorado Council on
Research and Creative Work, 2004-2005, PI: Joe Ryan
- Contributing to the
Remediation of Abandoned Mines in the Lefthand Creek Watershed
(Northwestern Boulder County, Colorado) with the Lefthand Watershed
Oversight Group, University of Colorado Outreach Committee,
2003-2005, PI: Joe Ryan
the Risk of Mine Wastes in Jamestown, Colorado (Northwestern Boulder
County), with the Citizens Advisory Group for the Environment and the
James Creek Watershed Initiative,
University of Colorado Outreach Committee, 2002, PI: Joe Ryan
University of Colorado Outreach Program Grant, 2002
- Loading of Metals and Uranium to James
Creek, Northwestern Boulder County, Colorado, from Surrounding
National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates,
- Susan M. Bautts, 2006, M.S.,
Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Colorado at
Boulder, An investigation of
metal concentrations in waste rock piles, stream water, benthic
macroinvertebrate tissues, and stream bed sediments to assess
long-term impacts of intermittent precipitation events in the
Lefthand Creek watershed, northwestern Boulder County, Colorado
(pdf) M.S. thesis.
- Drew Bryenton, 2004, B.S. Civil
Engineering, Purdue University, 2005. National Science Foundation
Research Experience for Undergraduates Final Presentation, Metals Content of
Benthic Macroinvertebrates in Lefthand Creek Watershed
- Roshan Cholas, 2003, B.S. Civil and
Environmental Engineering, University of California at Berkeley,
National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates
Final Presentation, Acid
Mine Drainage: Metals in Water and Sediment, Upper Lefthand Creek,
Northwestern Boulder County, Colorado (PowerPoint).
Harrington, 2002, B.S. Chemistry, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina,
National Science Foundation Research
Experience for Undergraduates Final Report,
Impact of Mine Drainage and
Distribution of Metal Loading Sources in the James Creek Watershed
Assessed under Low-Flow Conditions, and Final Presentation,
of Mine Drainage and Distribution of Heavy Metal Contamination in the
James Creek Watershed (PowerPoint).
- Alice R. Wood, 2004, M.A.,
Environmental Studies, University of Colorado at Boulder,
Prioritization of Mining-Related Metal Sources with Metal Loading
Tracer Dilution Tests, and a Review of Regulations and Mine Restoration
Funding Resources, Lefthand Creek Watershed, Northwestern Boulder
County, Colorado (pdf) M.A. thesis.
Engineering Professor and Student Selected for EPA Award, Inside
CU, May 23, 2006.
Concentrations of Metals
in Waste Rock Piles, Benthic Macroinvertebrates, and Sediments as
Monitors of Metal Contamination in the James and Little James
Creeks, Boulder County (presentation), presented by Susan
Bautts at a meeting of the James Creek Watershed Initiative, May 8,
Effect of Burlington Mine
Pond on Metal Concentrations in Little James Creek
(presentation) presented by Joe Ryan at a meeting of the Lefthand
Watershed Oversight Group, December 6, 2005.
- Wood A.R., Cholas R.,
Harrington L., Isenhart L., Turner N., Ryan J.N., 2004.
Prioritization of Mining-Related Metal Sources in the Streams and
Streambed Sediments of the Lefthand Creek Watershed, Northwestern
County, Colorado, 2002-2003. Report 04-01, Department of Civil,
Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado
at Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, 139 pp.
CU-Boulder Professor Assists in Remediation of Abandoned Mines,
Inside CU, July 2004.
Assessment of Zinc,
Copper, and Lead in Streams and Streambed Sediments of the Lefthand
Creek Watershed, Northwestern Boulder County, Colorado
(poster), presented by Alice Wood at the Water Environment
Federation-American Water Works Association Student Conference, May
Assessment of Metal Loads by
Tracer Injection and Synoptic Sampling in the Lefthand Creek
Watershed, Boulder County, Colorado (presentation), presented
by Alice Wood at a meeting of the
Watershed Oversight Group, December 2003.
Cleaning Up Abandoned
Mines: Can and Will Communities Contribute? (presentation),
presented by Joe Ryan at the
Colorado Riparian Association's 16th Annual Conference, October,
Cleaning Up Waters
Polluted by Abandoned Mines: Obstacles and Opportunities
(presentation), presented by Joe Ryan as part of the Reynolds Lecture
Series, Colorado Chautauqua Association and the University of Colorado
Chancellor's Office, July 2003.
Examines Mine Waste In Streams. Boulder Daily Camera, April 6,
Mining and Water
Quality in the Western United States -- A Collision of Resources Part
II. Abandoned Mines and Acid Mine Drainage in Boulder County
(presentation), presented by Joe Ryan (with Kirk Nordstrom, U.S.
Geological Survey) as part of the
Creek Watershed Forum, April 2003.
Mines and Acid Mine Drainage: Dealing with the Hit-and-Run Legacy of
Mining in the West (presentation), presented by
Joe Ryan as part of the Center
of the American West's Healing the West: Restoration,
Remediation, Repair, and Mitigation series, March 5, 2003,
Chautauqua Community House.
|Go to: Projects
/ Collaborators / Student Theses,
Reports, and Presentations / Publications, Presentations,
Roshan Cholas (REU, Summer, 2003) and
Alice Wood (M.A., 2004) sample Lefthand Creek near Rowena in July 2003.
The Golden Age Mine mill in 1880 (from the
Denver Public Library Western History
Susan Bautts (M.S., 2006) collects
streambed sediment samples from James Creek in the town of Jamestown in
Steel cable near a mine shaft,
with an acidic subsidence pit point in the background, at the
Burlington Mine near the Little James Creek in 2002.
Amber Roche (Discovery Learning
Apprentice) collects waste rock samples from a pile along Lefthand Creek
near Lickskillet Road in March 2005.
Acid mine drainage from the Big Five Tunnel on the
Captain Jack Superfund site along Lefthand Creek south of Ward.
acidic drainage from the subsidence pit pond at the Burlington Mine
showing the characteristic ferric oxyhydroxide precipitation associated
with the acid mine drainage.