Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Contaminated water from abandoned mines threatens colorado ski areas, say Colorado U. researchers

18.09.2003


The ability of several of Colorado’s prime ski areas to respond to winter drought is threatened by acidic runoff from abandoned mines, according to researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments.



Contamination known as acid-rock drainage enters waterways, such as Summit County’s Snake River, that are used for making artificial snow. When the snow melts, the water can run into streams not previously polluted, further spreading the contamination, said the research team.

CU-Boulder’s Andrew Todd and Diane McKnight of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and Lane Wyatt of the Northwest Council of Governments describe how past Colorado mining is adversely affecting tourism, now a $9 billion industry. The paper will be published in the Sept. 23rd issue of Eos, published by the American Geophysical Union.


They note that the problem is not limited to Colorado or to the United States. Worldwide, mine contamination affects more than 12,000 miles of rivers and streams and 180,000 acres of lakes, according to the U.S. Bureau of Mines.

In Colorado alone, roughly 7,000 abandoned mines continue to leach waste minerals into more than 1,600 miles of streams. The state’s long mining history is clearly visible to motorists on Interstate 70 heading west from Denver to the ski areas of Summit County in the form of orange mine tailings, weathered structures and even in the names of some communities and ski trails.

Colorado’s severe drought has made artificial snowmaking essential at many ski areas, including Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, the focus of the authors’ study. The main portion of the Snake River, which is contaminated with heavy metals, has been the source of Keystone’s artificial snowmaking since 1971.

Heavy metals have been detected in headwater drainages within the ski areas, according to a recent study conducted by Hydrosphere, a regional consulting firm. Resort management is seeking to more than double the amount of Snake River water it utilizes for snowmaking. Currently, at the point where river water is diverted for this purpose, concentrations of zinc, cadmium and copper occasionally exceed criteria for aquatic life, including three of the four species of trout found in state streams.

Although periodic droughts are normal in Colorado, affecting at least 5 percent of the state periodically, ski resorts also are concerned about the potential additional impact of climate change, which could add to the problem of inadequate snow. Recent studies cited by the authors suggest that warming, under even the most conservative scenarios, could shorten the ski season, shift ski areas to higher elevations and eliminate marginal areas altogether.

One method of mitigating these effects would be additional snowmaking on a large scale, wrote the authors. Another is moving to a four-season strategy, with spring, summer and fall activities focused on fishing, golfing and rafting. Many of these activities depend on clean water supplies, however, and winter snowmaking, using less abundant and contaminated water, can adversely affect these other sports.

The authors observe that, at present, there are no reliable methods of mitigating acid-rock drainage at its source, the abandoned mines that dot today’s recreational areas.

Both McKnight and Todd also are affiliated with the environmental engineering program at CU-Boulder.


Note to Editors: Journalists may obtain a copy of this article on request by contacting Harvey Leifert (hleifert@agu.org). Please provide your name, the name of the publication (Abandoned Mines), address, phone and email address.

Additional Contacts: Andrew Todd, (303) 735-6059
andrew.todd@colorado.edu
Diane McKnight, (303) 492-4687
diane.mcknight@colorado.edu
Harvey Leifert, AGU (202) 777-7507
Jim Scott, CU (303) 492-3114

Andrew Todd | American Geophysical Union
Further information:
http://www.colorado.edu/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>