PROPOSED ROYAL JOHN MINE TAILINGS REPOSITORY: GROUNDWATER AND CAVE ASSESSMENT
Over two acres (.8 hectares) of mine tailings are located along the main drainage, Cold Creek, and more tailings and waste rock are located near the adits around the area resulting in high values for lead in the surrounding water and soils. In the 1990s, efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency worked to stabilize tailings and prevent leaching in Cold Creek through reconstruction of a drainage channel, creation of sediment control, and addition of vegetation. These efforts were unsuccessful. In 2013 a fire swept across the area, resulting in higher streamflow during the monsoon period. These high flows eroded the reclamation efforts, exposing tailings in the stream. In 2017 the Forest Service is working to create a repository for the waste rock and tailings, and two proposed sites have been located, one in the West Cut area. The main purpose of this portion of the project was to discuss groundwater issues surrounding the repository, as well as issues relating to cave management of Royal John Cave.