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Ginn Battle North Proposed Development

Ginn Battle North is a proposed residential development which would include a golf course and private ski area. The property is located on a portion of the Eagle Mine Superfund Site that includes old tailings ponds and other mine waste. The Ginn property has been approved for annexation to the Town of Minturn and will seek approval for the development from the Town. Because the property is a Superfund site, a feasibility study must be developed and submitted to the US EPA for their approval.

Cleanup levels previously accomplished at the mine site through the superfund program will likely not be adequate for residential use of the property. Additional remedial action will probably be needed. Increased safety for human inhabitation would be the principal objective of any additional cleanup that EPA would require of Ginn. (see the link to EPA Feasibility Fact Sheet, below) Further remedial cleanup activities may call for further isolation of contaminated soils or subsoils with a possible water quality benefit.

More intensive land use in the area to be developed may increase the interaction of water with soils and sub-soils which continue to contain high levels of heavy metals. Water contacting these contaminated soils and sub-soils may occur as precipitation or applied irrigation water. Disturbance of soils and increased volume of water percolating through soils that become irrigated are potential causes of increased leaching of heavy metals into the groundwater and then to the River.

All urban development has some negative effect upon water quality. Landscape irrigation leads to leaching of applied fertilizer. Runoff from roads and other paved surfaces contains sediment and other pollutants, and this is especially of concern in mountain areas where a significant of amount traction sand and chemical deicer's are used. The proposed development is no exception. Erosion during construction activities, return flow and runoff from the developed lands, as well as return flow and runoff from the ski area and golf course are all examples of how more intensive land use results in a pollutant loading to the river. These concerns are greater when the more intensive use occurs on soils and sub-soils which may contain residual pollution from a past use such as mining.

Diversion of high quality water from upstream of the mine for water supply needs (human consumption, a golf course and snow making) is not a source of pollution by itself. However, diversion of clean water does reduce the amount of high quality water contributing to the river flow through the impaired reaches, effectively reducing dilution water. For this reason, increased diversion of high quality water will impact the water quality of the Eagle River.

It is not clear at this time where Ginn will obtain water for the proposed development. Ginn has made an application to the Division 5 Water Court in case number 06CW264.. The Town of Minturn has also filed Water Court applications in 05CW262 and 07CW225, to serve future development in the Town, including the Ginn development which has been annexed to the Town. These applications appear overlapping, and seek many new and increased points of diversion for surface water as well as several water storage reservoirs. Further definition will likely be required before these cases are determined.

Information in an article in the Vail Daily would indicate that Ginn might alternatively or additionally seek to purchase the Columbine Ditch from the Pueblo Board of Water Works. This ditch has historically diverted water from the Eagle River basin into the Arkansas River Basin. Visit www.vaildaily.com/article/20090210/NEWS/902109859 for further information.

The net effect of these potential impacts to water quality has yet to be determined.

Phase 2 of the study being conducted by ERWC Eagle Mine Ltd. involves consideration of the impacts of the proposed GInn Battle North development of lands on the superfund site on the quality of water in the Eagle River.

Links and documents:

EPA Eagle Mine Superfund Site (including access to documents)

Eagle Mine Superfund Site Battle Mountain Proposed Development - EPA Feasability Study Fact Sheet