Success Stories -  Siting Renewable Energy on Contaminated Land
Summitville Mine Superfund  Site, Rio  Grande County, Colorado
Hydroelectric plant powers contaminated water treatment at former gold mine
Site Description
The 1,400-acre Summitville Mine Superfund site is located approximately
18 miles southwest of Del Norte, Colorado. The former mine is in the San Juan
Mountains at an elevation of 11,500 feet, two miles from the Continental Divide.
The Wightman Fork of the Alamosa River flows from the site through forest and
agricultural land. The Terrace Reservoir, used for irrigation, is on the Alamosa
River 18 miles downstream from the site.

Property History
Gold mining began at Summitville around 1870. The
latest mining operator, Summitville Consolidated
Mining Corp., Inc. operated a pit heap leach gold mining
operation, using cyanide to extract the gold, from July
1986 through October 1991. The company abandoned
the site in December 1992 after declaring bankruptcy.
Location:          EPA Region 8, Rio Grande County, CO
Property Size:      1,400 Acres
Site Ownership:    Federal - U.S. Forest Service
Former Use:       Heap leach gold and silver mining
Contaminants:      Heavy metals, acid mine drainage
Project Type:       Superfund—OSRTI/OSW/Mining Team
Type of RE:        Hydroelectric
Project Cost:       $350,000 (for hydroelectric component)
Key Partners:      Colorado Department of Public Health
                 and Environment;  National
                 Renewable Energy Laboratories, EPA
                 Region 8
                 Under construction; 2010 completion
                                                       Current Status:
The site is contaminated with heavy metals (i.e., copper,
cadmium, manganese, zinc, lead, nickel, aluminum,
iron) onsite. Downstream of the site, surface water
quality has been heavily degraded with heavy metals,
especially copper, and acid mine drainage.
The EPA Emergency Response Branch assumed
responsibility of the site on December 16, 1992. On May
31, 1994, the site was placed on the National Priorities
List of Superfund sites. Management of surface water
contaminated by heavy metals and acid mine drainage
from exposed minerals at the site is a cleanup priority.
The hydroelectric plant is part of a series of construction
projects to improve control of snowmelt and storm water
runoff at the site. A new water treatment plant is
scheduled to be completed in 2010.

Renewable Energy Development
Construction began on the Summitville micro
hydroelectric plant in summer 2008. An inlet structure
and penstock for a 40 kW plant were built in 2008, and
construction of a power house and installation of a
turbine will occur in summer 2009. A 16-inch diameter
penstock will divert water from the Wightman Fork. Once complete, the facility will generate 250,000-290,000
kilowatt-hours per year - enough to power about 25 households, and prevent 250-275 metric tons of carbon
dioxide from being released into the atmosphere every year. EPA Region 8 anticipates that the plant will provide
enough power to operate a required onsite water treatment plant (planned for 2010). Power generated by the
hydroelectric plant will be fed back into the Xcel Energy grid through a net metering agreement and will be used
to offset the cost of power usage required for water treatment. Plans are underway for a more efficient water
treatment plant to replace the aging, original plant. Once the new treatment plant is complete, energy from the
hydroelectric plant will be sufficient to power all water treatment at the site.
                                                       PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS:
                                                           Management of contaminated surface water incorporates
                                                           a hydroelectric plant.
                                                           Hydroelectric plant construction began July 2008; plant
                                                           will begin generating power in spring 2010.
                                                           Power from the plant will be sold back to the electricity
                                                           provider, reducing the energy cost of contaminated
                                                           surface water treatment at the site by 40%.
                                                           Shared costs and partner organizations help ensure
                                                           long-term stewardship of institutional controls.
                                                            CONTACT: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
                                         Daniel Lutz, Community Involvement Coordinator: 1-888/569-1831 x3310,
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