Long-term reclamation projects lower the historically high-metal loading in the Animas River

By Steven Lange

Metals loading adversely impacts the Animas River in the area around Silverton, San Juan County, Colorado. The metals of concern include iron, aluminum, cadmium, copper, lead, zinc, arsenic and nickel. The metals loading in the Animas River is due to acid rock drainage that is created when sulphide minerals are exposed to air and water to produce sulphuric acid. The acidic water can dissolve area minerals and then deposit metals in rivers like the Animas. Metals loading in the Animas River has limited aquatic life, including the trout fishery downstream from Silverton.
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