News Release Archive

Reclamation Successfully Tests Water Treatment Plant at Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel

Media Contact: Peter Soeth, 303-445-3615, 03/11/2008 16:43
Mark Andersen, (406) 247-7610,

For Release: March 11, 2008

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

# # #

Reclamation is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States, and the nation's second largest producer of hydroelectric power. Its facilities also provide substantial flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits. Visit our website at and follow us on Twitter @USBR.

Relevant Link:

Leadville Mine Drainage Tunnel Website