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$544,090 to flow to Clear Creek Watershed Foundation

Release Date: 08/21/2007
Contact Information: Ayn Schmit, 303-312-6220, schmit.ayn@epa.gov Eric Steinhaus, 303-312-6837, steinhaus.eric@epa.gov Marcella Hutchinson, 303-312-6753, hutchinson.marcella@epa.gov Frank Montarelli, 303-312-6780, montarelli.frank@epa.gov General Inquiries 800 227-8917

Group selected as EPA finalist for Upper Clear Creek efforts

      (Denver, Colo., Aug. 21, 2007) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA Region 8 Administrator Robert E. Roberts and Jim Martin, Director of the Department of Public Health and Environment gathered at Vanover Park in Golden today to announce EPA’s selection of the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation as a finalist for a $544,090 Targeted Watershed Grant.

Participating in the event were representatives from the offices of Sen. Wayne Allard, Sen. Ken Salazar, Congressman Mark Udall and Congressman Ed Perlmutter; Idaho Springs Mayor Dennis Lunbery and Golden Mayor Charles Baroch; key partners in the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation including: Steve Gunderson, Director, Colorado Water Quality Control Division, Ron Cattany, Director, Division of Reclamation & Mining Safety, and Gary Baughman, Director, Colorado Hazardous Materials & Waste Management Division; represenatives of the U.S. Forest Service; Neil Jaquet, Director of Water Resources, and Kristi Mallow, Environmental Affairs & State Legislative Issues manager, both Coors Brewing Co.; Kurk Keskimaki, Mine Manager, Climax Molybdenum (formerly Phelps-Dodge); and Trout Unlimited West Denver Chapter Vice President Gary Frey and Miles Williams, Trout Unlimited Golden Mile Project Manager.

The winning Clear Creek proposal focuses on Upper Clear Creek from the Continental Divide to the City of Golden and features a large-scale mine site remediation project to restore water quality in impaired stream segments. The proposal includes installation of traps for contaminated sediment, removal of mine waste piles, and development of an innovative orphan mine trading program to fund maintenance of sediment traps.

"The Clear Creek Watershed Foundation is a shining national example of how cooperative conservation and innovation can reduce legacy problems from hard rock mining," said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "This Targeted Watersheds Grant will help the Foundation accelerate cleanup of sediment and mine waste in areas that have the greatest benefit for water quality and watershed health."

EPA Region 8 Administrator Roberts said, “Clear Creek represents the first place in Region 8, and perhaps in the country, where the watershed approach was applied to a large mining-impacted area. The results of this project will benefit many Coloradans, from the 300,000 Denver metro residents who drink water from Clear Creek to the many Front Range citizens and visitors who kayak, raft and fish in this vital mountain water source.”

Clear Creek, once one of Colorado’s most heavily mined areas, has numerous stream segments impaired by heavy metals resulting from mining activity. Beginning in 1993, Superfund and Clean Water Act tools were brought together to address watershed mining impacts using a locally led collaborative approach. A watershed plan completed in 2006 prioritized sub-watersheds where remediation will have the most impact on improving water quality.
Lying west of Denver, the 575 square-mile Clear Creek watershed extends from its headwaters on the Continental Divide at 14,000 feet down through several mountain and foothill communities into the Denver Metro area, where Clear Creek joins the South Platte River in northeast Denver at 5,100 feet.

The Clear Creek Watershed Foundation has a 15-year track record involving diverse partners, securing funding from multiple sources, and enabling projects to remediate mining impacts. It serves as a model for many other communities struggling to resolve contamination from historic and current hard rock mining activity.

EPA’s Targeted Watershed Grant program encourages innovative solutions to achieving measurable water quality improvements. In Fall 2006, the nation’s governors and Tribal leaders were invited to nominate projects from their leading watershed organizations for the Agency’s fourth round of TWGs.

A total of 16 organizations are finalists nationally to apply for a total of $13.36 million through EPA’s TWG Program. The selected organizations will implement a variety of activities to improve the health of their watersheds.

The TWG Program was initiated in 2002 to encourage successful community-based approaches to protect and restore the nation's watersheds. Watershed health is important to providing clean, safe water where Americans live, work and play. Since 2003, more than $40 million has been provided through Targeted Watersheds Grants.

For more information on this program go to:
http://www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/initiative/