OFFICE of SURFACE MINING
RECLAMATION and ENFORCEMENT

U.S. Department of the Interior

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Colorado

Upper Cement Creek

The Colorado Inactive Mine Reclamation Program’s (CIMRP) Upper Cement Creek 3D Mine Modeling Project was nominated by the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) for a 2013 Secretary of the Interior Partners in Conservation Award. This project highlights the collaborative work of the OSMRE, BLM and the CIMRP to provide resources and technical expertise needed to meet challenges in abandoned mine reclamation.

Upper Cement Creek in-stream water quality is significantly degraded by acid mine drainage (AMD) discharging from numerous historic gold and silver mines with extensive, interconnected underground workings. In 2012, the BLM and CIMRP engaged OSM’s Technical Innovation and Professional Services Program (TIPS) to assist in constructing a three-dimensional model of the mine workings, geologic structures, and groundwater using EarthVision software. The BLM, CIMRP, and OSMRE are currently using the model to inform and educate the public, and to help predict ground and surface water reactions in order to conceptualize source-control approaches for mitigating the AMD problems.

The Upper Cement Creek and Animas River watershed is a popular recreation area where people utilize public lands for hiking, jeeping, snowboarding, and back country skiing. Upper Cement Creek is part of the nationally-famous Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. By developing this model that will aid in the remediation of unsightly AMD, the partnership is providing natural resource protection and improving the experiences of recreational users. Additionally, the partnership successfully developed a valuable tool to help sustainable management of water quality and natural resources on public and private lands degraded by past mining practices. The partnership also created a technical model that provides a sound scientific foundation for future decision making. The predictive tool developed is used by OSMRE, BLM, EPA and USGS, in collaboration with Colorado State agencies, to plan and predict the results of various acid-mine drainage remedial approaches. In the future, the model will be used to simulate different reclamation strategies including removing bulkheads, adding bulkheads, draining mine workings, treating mine pools, and installing underground source controls. The partnership has supported and advanced continuing efforts to address historic water quality impairments in its goal to improve water quality in Upper Cement Creek and the Animas River watershed in southwestern Colorado.

For more information on the Upper Cement Creek 3D Mine Modeling Project, please visit OSMRE’s TIPS website at http://www.tips.osmre.gov/newsroom/success_stories/2012/2012jun-28.shtml.

Page Last Modified/Reviewed: 12/22/16

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