Town funds Coal Creek Watershed Coalition in mine collaboration

Hoping county steps up as well

By Mark Reaman

The town of Crested Butte has agreed to fund the efforts of the Coal Creek Watershed Coalition (CCWC) to work with the Mt. Emmons Mining Company (MEMCO) to develop water quality standards in Coal Creek. The hope is that Gunnison County will split the $13,500 cost, but the council made it clear the work is important as part of the evolving process with the molybdenum mine on Red Lady.

The CCWC will assess data and develop new site-specific water quality standards for Coal Creek in conjunction with MEMCO and the state. The CCWC has been sampling water quality in Coal Creek for the past 12 years.

At the Monday, April 18 Town Council meeting, the council expressed some concern with footing the whole bill and town attorney John Belkin said it was likely, but not a sure thing, that the county would help pick up half of the tab. The Red Lady Coalition has committed to donate $1,500 toward the $15,000 request.

“Part of the appeal is that these local guys with Coal Creek will work with MEMCO and develop a business relationship,” said Belkin.

“We expect to work with the mining company directly,” said CCWC president Steve Glazer. He also noted that since all the stakeholders will “work toward a consensus opinion about what the stream standards should be, it is also possible that CCWC’s costs will increase,” citing the potential for more needed meetings and more data gathering and analysis.

“I think we need a tickler to remind us all to ask the county for a contribution,” said councilperson Laura Mitchell.

“It’s been a collaborative effort,” said Belkin. “They are aware.”

“I think the work is important enough that we should pay the whole thing now and not have it be contingent upon county participation,” said councilwoman Erika Vohman. “If they do contribute, that’s great.”

Glazer said the CCWC was hoping to get on the May 3 board of county commissioners agenda to officially make the request for financial assistance.

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