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Letter to the Editor

Canon City Daily Record: July 26, 2018


Hidden issues beneath Dawson Ranch gold mine project

Recently, there has been a debate about a proposed gold mine to be located south of town. Most of the concerns have revolved around appearance or damage to the visual landscape and noise and air pollution. While worrying about potential unsightliness, citizens should also worry about what is out of sight.

Many people south of the river still use wells to water crops and some even for household use. The aquifers that recharge these wells are south of town, in the areas of the planned underground mining operations. Any drilling, blasting, boring, etc., in this area could damage these aquifers. Other proposed procedures, such as injecting tailings and concrete back underground, could similarly alter or damage the local aquifers. Even if one does not depend on well water, there are concerns. Rain leached water with contaminants may gravel layers of the local water table and moving north and east, potentially affect many neighborhoods.

The corporation proposing the gold mining lease swears no heavy metals or toxins will be used, but even if they are not, more common chemicals, such as diesel fuels, etc., can easily leach into the groundwater. People don't think about how closely linked environmentally distant things are. For example, two to four weeks after the irrigation canals are turned on in the spring, water runs through my cellar, though I am blocks away from the canal. Always, every season, no exception and has done so for decades.

On the other hand, when Dawson's ranch subdivision first went in, the water table in the yard and cellar dropped by over a foot and has maintained that level or lower since. Rainwater, groundwater, and leached chemicals south of town head for the river, regardless of what we may plan, but it is also a delicate balance. I don't want gas and oil in my cellar, and I am sure well users don't want their wells to dry up or be contaminated in any way.

Zephyr Minerals talks about many fine things, like "corporate citizens" that ultimately have little significance, throws out exciting numbers like "20 million dollars" without any actual itemized data, and freely admits they kept quiet and did not try to talk to the public until they were actually called out on this project. While looking at the obvious and well-understood concerns with this gold mine, people need to consider the hidden issues beneath it and irreparable collateral damage that might occur as it goes forward.

Peggy Colgate,

Cañon City