Dear Stakeholders – Several items that may be of interest.
First, USGS, working on behalf of EPA and BLM, has been investigating fish habitat and doing some electro-shocking to determine presence or absence of fish in certain locations. They found some brook trout of several different age classes near Burro Bridge in upper Mineral Creek (the road to Ophir Pass). Twenty years ago, this stretch of creek was devoid of aquatic life, but since that time, there have been 12 remediation projects upstream of that site. We knew the water quality had greatly improved, but we were surprised learn about the trout. They probably came from Mill Creek. This is great news. USGS did not shock further upstream, for example near Chattanooga. We expect that water quality might be even better there than by Burro Bridge.
There was a rainbow in Mineral Creek near the confluence with Bear Creek, but it probably washed down from South Mineral. South Mineral has brook and rainbow trout, the latter are frequently stocked.
Here is a nice article in the Durango Herald about the recent find: Trout Discovered
Scott Roberts with MSI also collected macroinvertebrates in Mineral Creek for EPA. We hope to see those results as well this fall.
We do not expect trout (or much other aquatic life) between the Middle Fork and the South Fork on Mineral Creek. The Middle Fork has high levels of iron and aluminum and low pH, most of which we think is natural. It really impairs water quality downstream from the confluence.
Currently the upper stretch of Mineral Creek has no aquatic life designation under the Clean Water Act. We are working on a proposal to add such a classification at the WQCC Rulemaking Hearing in June 2017. In addition, we are working on a proposal to change zinc and cadmium standards in Arrastra Gulch to existing quality. They do not meet the current standards which are Table Value Standards, and we think those are unattainable. We will be providing more information on these proposals in the near future.
Second, EPA is planning some public meetings in November to discuss this past year’s work and future plans. Meetings are planned in the evenings of Nov. 14 (Silverton), 15 (Durango), 16 (Ignacio), and 17 (Shiprock). We have not received details on locations and times yet.
Third, at the last ARSG meeting someone asked about what type of flocculent was being used to treat the Gold King. No one from EPA at the meeting knew the answer, but they got back to me a few days later. It’s Drewfloc 2499