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Keiran Eagen

J Mac/Humanities
9.22.2015

How to Fix a Watery Friend


An Average Guy's or Gals Guide to Saving Your Local River
When the river turned a toxic but beautiful mustard orange hue, which was sometimes
referred to as toxic diarrhea many people in Durango Colorado were at a loss about what to do,
because the local river was not a refreshing clear blue. The river that supported so many
businesses and families was, for the moment not supporting anyone. Once it was discovered that
the EPA was responsible for sending 3 million gallons of toxic mine sludge from the Gold King
Mine above Silverton Colorado many in Durango felt an immediate anger towards the EPA,
some even threatened to sue. No person did end up suing the EPA, but it did bring a huge
question to light, should Silverton be designated a Superfund site. Some people will immediately
think no, others yes, but the question is much too broad to be answered with a simple yes or no.
Although Superfund would be extremely effective at dealing with heavy metal loading coming
from the Gold King Mine and other mines in the Silverton watershed, a community based
solution involving the EPA and the Animas River Stakeholders Group could be the most effective
in a long term solution.
Superfund has many things going for it including the fact that it would be implemented
quicker than most other solutions or plans that have been brought to the table, but it also has
downsides. In an interview with Peter Butler, who is a member of the Animas River Stakeholders
Group, he described how Superfund, if it was used to deal with the continuous heavy metal
loading coming from the Gold King Mine, would probably use a water treatment plant that after
ten years of operating would then become the state of Colorado's responsibility to run and keep
in working condition. Colorado is already operating at least three of these water treatment plants.
Chances are that the state would take responsibility for this plant but, they would not be happy
about it. These water treatment plants are no cheap endeavor. They cost millions of dollars per
year. How long will the plant be operating for? A great question, the plant would operate for ten
years with Superfund and then Colorado would be in charge of the operation for as long as it
desires.
Now another thing to think about when considering Superfund, at least when dealing with
these mines, is that Superfund would be cleaning up some of the 400 mines that are in the
watershed above Silverton. Many Silvertonians feel that some of San Juan Counties great history
would be lost if these were cleaned up. Tourism is why Silverton is still alive today. A local
Silverton man stated in an interview the Durango Herald, You hear the word Superfund site
and 99 percent think danger. So why would you want to go to a Superfund site? (Why
Silverton Still Doesnt Want Superfund) If Superfund is going to drive away tourism how will
Silverton stay alive? Some say The Durango to Silverton Railroad is still going to run. People
are still going to go to Silverton, but will that really be enough? Yes, it could be, look at

Leadville Colorado, it is a mere 5 hours away from Durango and is a small town similar to
Silverton. It was designated a Superfund site and tourists still go there to see the mining and
history and visit all of Leadvilles amazing thrift shops. It may be time to let the EPA take control
as stated by Rob Robinson, I was a member of (the stakeholders) for many years and believed
strongly in what they were doing: community-based, watershed-based cleanup. I guess its not
gone so well, in fact, its really disastrous when you compare the situation with whats happened
at other Superfund sites. (Silverton Flirting With Superfund?) Robinson really makes a point
there, it has been 25 years since the ARSG has formed, and that organization has done great
things, but now it is time for something to be put in place that help our river stay healthy,
because The ultimate human arrogance is the assumption that to pollute you is the same as
killing you. Youll be fine but we wont. (A Eulogy to the Animas River)
Now assuming that you, my reader, have stuck with me to this point, I would like tell you
that this is the last stretch before you are a pro at fixing your local river. The last thing to
consider is that this does not have to be a debate between who has control over this massive
cleanup plan, which is something that has been hinted at before. Collaborative efforts will be key
in making the river healthy again. People in the Animas River communities have been affected
emotionally and spiritually. Creating a group effort with the EPA and the ARSG could be the best
option. Especially if community voices can be heard. So many people are connected to this river
in a way others will never understand. To some people it is their teacher, as Kelsey Edens
summed up The Animas River taught me everything It gave me confidence, the skill - the
knowledge of how to read a river - all these really important things in life: trust, communication,
leadership. (A Eulogy to the Animas River) They will have insights and will be very interested
in helping. Do not, no matter what, look down upon these people, the river rats, the college
students who skip class on sunny days to go kayaking and the rafting business owners. They will
have just as much information to bring to the table as the PHD scientists and their fancy probes.
Congratulations! You have made it to the end of this guide to saving your river. Although
Superfund could be the most effective way to deal with heavy metal loading above Silverton,
EPA and ARSG collaboration will be the most effective solution to this immensely complex
problem. You may have noticed that I have only given you information about Superfund and
other options that you could use to fix up your river. The solution will vary from town to town
situation to situation. That is the beauty of this issue, it will never be the same anywhere you go.
So protect your river, because it is going to be flowing for generations to come. The real question
is are you going to enjoy it, or are you going to destroy it?

Bibliography:
A Eulogy to the Animas River, Sam Morse

Silverton Flirting With Superfund?, Durango Herald


Why Silverton doesnt want a Superfund site, High Country News
Quotes from Peter Butler gained through personal interview

In-class Writing Rubric

Name___Keiran_Eagen___________

Formatting Requirements:
Double-spaced, 11 or
12 point font
Indented paragraphs
Name, date upper left
hand corner
Centered Title
Development:
Have you clearly articulated
a
thesis statement in the intro
paragraph?
Is each paragraph focused
on one main idea as anchored in the
topic sentence?
Are your ideas fully
explored, with specific details?
Are you offering evidence
that supports the idea of each
paragraph?
Do you analyze each piece
of evidence thoroughly, and explain
how it is connected to the topic
sentence and the larger perspective
of the essay?
Organization:
Does your essay have an
intro that sets up the thesis and a
conclusion that brings it to a close?
Do your body paragraphs
flow logically out of your thesis
statement?
Does each paragraph have a
T, E, and A?
Do your ideas logically
connect from one paragraph to the
next?
Does the whole paper tie
work together to support a central

A
B
C
Complete
Meets the
Approaches
execution of standard with the standard
the standard.
room for
with room for
improvement
ample
improvement
Everything
except for the
thing I
highlighted. I
needed to
explore some
of claims I
made more
fully.
A-

Not so sure
about
logically
connecting
my ideas.
They all
pertain to the
same main
point. Does
that count?
A-

Not
Passing
Below the
standard.

perspective?
Evidence:
Have you quoted from
documents to support your view in
your body paragraphs?
Does your evidence make
sense in the context of your
argument?
Are your quotes set up
correctly and cited in text?
Sentence Craft:
Are you writing sentences
that are grammatically correct?
Is the meaning of your
sentences clear and easy to follow?
Do you use simple and
complex sentences for a varied
effect?
Proofreading:
Is your paper free of
unfixed errors and squiggly colored
lines?
Did you carefully read
through your paper for clarity of
language and grammatical errors?

Yes, Yes, Yes,


Yes, Yes. A

Sometimes
Im not so
sure but I got
it this time.
A

Everything is
good except
for
Silvertonians.
A

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