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Great Plains Region
Billings, Mont.
Media Contact:
Peter Soeth
303-445-3615
Mark Andersen
(406) 247-7610

Released On: March 11, 2008

Reclamation Successfully Tests Water Treatment Plant at Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel
The Bureau of Reclamation successfully tested the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel Water Treatment Plant by operating the facility at near capacity for several hours on Monday, March 10.

"This test is part of Reclamation's preparations for receiving and treating additional water from the well EPA plans to install to reduce the elevated groundwater," said Area Manager Michael Collins.

To have enough water for the test, Reclamation stored water in the catchment basin adjacent to the water treatment facility. Beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, Reclamation began increasing the amount of water being treated in 200 gallon-per-minute increments until it reached 2100 gallons-per-minute.

It remained at this level until late afternoon when the water being treated was reduced back to the current level of 1100 gallons-per-minute. The plants actual treatment capacity is a function of both the quality and quantity of water being treated. If water entering the plant has a higher metal content, the output capacity is reduced.

Reclamation is also coordinating and collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency on the pumping of the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel. "This coordination is essential to ensure that the water treatment plant will be able to treat the water efficiently and effectively," added Collins.

In addition to getting the water treatment plant ready, Reclamation successfully tested the emergency warning system at the facility on February 22, updated the community safety plan and provided it to the residents of the Village at East Fork.

Since November, Reclamation has been working on a risk assessment of the Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel to gain a true understanding of the risk. This effort is simultaneous to the other actions and will be complete by June 30, 2008. As the assessment progresses, Reclamation will provide regular updates on its website at http://www.usbr.gov/gp.

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Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier and the second largest producer of hydroelectric power in the United States, with operations and facilities in the 17 Western States. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at www.usbr.gov.