Thousands of old mines pollute Colorado waters, with no help in sight

As mountain snow starts to melt, trickling toxic acid laced with dissolved metals — arsenic, cadmium, copper, zinc — is fouling Colorado watersheds.

Nobody dares try to stop it.

Among the casualties: Peru Creek east of the Keystone ski area has been pronounced “biologically dead.”

State environmental officials also have listed 32 sites along the Animas River in critical condition. Some headwaters of the Arkansas River, too, are “virtually devoid of any aquatic life.”

The source of the contamination is abandoned mines — about 500,000 across the West, at least 7,300 in Colorado. Federal authorities estimate that the headwaters of 40 percent of Western rivers are tainted with toxic discharge from abandoned mines.

Colorado Department of Natural Resources records show 450 abandoned mines are known to be leaking measurable toxins into watersheds. So far, 1,300 miles of streams have been impaired.

But as bad as the damage is, community watershed groups, mining companies and even state agencies contend they cannot embark on cleanups for fear of incurring legal liability.

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Colorado’s biggest water project in decades under construction

PUEBLO — As much as 100 million gallons a day of Arkansas River water trapped in a reservoir for southern Colorado and downriver states is about to take a left turn — to Colorado’s biggest water project in decades.

Construction crews this week began work on the $2.3 billion Southern Delivery System. It is designed to pump water uphill and north from Pueblo Reservoir — through a 62-mile pipeline — to sustain Colorado Springs, which owns the rights to the river water, and other growing Front Range cities.

The cities embarked on this project because water supplies have emerged as a constraint on population growth.

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Colorado lawmakers urge Obama to help Libyan students stay in U.S.

Colorado lawmakers on Wednesday called on the Obama administration to relax a freeze on Libyan assets — or extend visas — so that Libyan students aren’t deported back to war-torn Libya.

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Libyan students in Colorado anxious about their plights

Libyan students stuck as upheaval back home threatens civilians and cuts off their finances are dreading possible deportation and considering asking for asylum.

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