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Colorado Water Science Center

Effect of Mine drainage on the quality of streams in Colorado, 1971-72

Colorado Water Resources Circular 21

By Dennis A. Wentz

Purpose and Scope

In July 1971, a study of the effects of mine drainage on Colorado's streams was begun in cooperation with the Colorado Water Pollution Control Commission. The objectives of this study were to determine the extent and magnitude of the problem as a whole, and to gain a greater understanding of the processes and their potential ramifications by detailed definition of problems in specific areas. In order to accomplish these objectives, a three-pronged approach was devised to include: (1) a reconnaissance of the entire State to locate problem areas, (2) the detailed study of selected problem areas on a short-term basis, and (3) the monitoring of selected problem areas on a long-term basis.

This report summarizes the results of the reconnaissance phase. It describes some basic physical, chemical, and biological water-quality characteristics of the streams, discusses observed effects of mine drainage on the surface-water environment, delineates problem areas, and provides a list of streams where intensive study and subsequent monitoring might provide further insight into the various problems encountered.

Plates 1-3. Maps showing:

  1. Location of sites sampled to determine the effect of metal mining on surface-water quality in Colorado, 1971-72.

  2. Location of sites sampled to determine the effect of coal mining on surface-water quality in Colorado, 1972.

  3. Streams in Colorado which are affected by metal-mine drainage, 1971-72.

CWR Circular 21

Plates

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