Terrace Reservoir project planned


SUMMITVILLE — The dead is coming to life again as cleanup continues on damages from the cyanide leakage at the Summitville mine site.

In fact, Terrace Reservoir State Wildlife Area has progressed so much that Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is proposing to build a boat ramp there.

A public meeting on this plan will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, July 14 at the San Luis Valley Water Conservation District, 623 E. Fourth Street in Alamosa.

Fish survival has been established through tests using rainbow trout stocked by CPW. Additional studies by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Walsh Aquatic Consultants documented survival and recruitment of stocked rainbow trout from 2008-2011.

The lake is currently inhabited by a robust rainbow trout fishery created by annual stocking in years past.

Angler use is currently low due to limited access points and steep topography surrounding the lake. The proposed boat ramp and parking lot project would improve access to the reservoir for boat and shore anglers, resulting in better utilization of the sport fishery. CPW estimates angler use will increase to 3,000 angler days with completion of the boat ramp.

Although it is owned and operated by the Terrace Irrigation Company, CPW manages the reservoir for recreational uses and purposes associated with public fishing through a perpetual easement grant and conservation pool agreement.

CPW proposes to increase angler access by constructing a concrete boat ramp, gravel parking lot, gravel access road and vault toilet at the reservoir. The site was chosen based on topography of the site and applicability for access from NF Road 250.

The boat ramp project site is located on the northwest shore of the reservoir. An old two-track road accessing the site has been used by recreationists in the past.

The boat ramp, turnaround and parking lot will occupy about five acres of land adjacent to the reservoir.

CPW staff have presented the boat ramp proposal to the Terrace Irrigation Company Board and received support for the project, while the Alamosa Riverkeepers have also sent a letter of support.

CPW is collaborating with the irrigation company for the boat ramp project and plans to search for additional funding partners.

Raising the dead

The Alamosa River and Terrace Reservoir were declared dead following the toxic spill of cyanide-laced water from the treatment plant at Summitville Mine. Installation of a new water treatment facility at the Superfund Site eventually improved water quality standards for aquatic life in the reservoir.

Beginning in 2000, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment {CDPHE) has conducted successful acute and chronic fish survival testing.

The 1,400-acre mine site is a former gold mine in Rio Grande County, established in the 1880s. Summitville Consolidated Mining Corporation Inc. (SCMCI), mined the site from July 1986 through October 1991, abandoning the site in December 1992. Mining processes, waste disposal practices and the discharge of large amounts of copper and other metals to Wightman Fork and the Alamosa River contaminated soil, surface water and groundwater with heavy metals, effectively killing the river and reservoir.

The EPA Emergency Response Branch assumed responsibility of the site on Dec. 16, 1992 and it was placed on the National Priorities List of Superfund sites on May 31, 1994.

Following project selection for a NROA grant, CPW will submit project proposal for internal funding, engineering and design, culminating with construction by year 2021. Midpoint inspection will be completed by September 2020 and final inspection will be October 2021.

Bids will be solicited through the state bid system by CPW’s procurement section. A successful bidder will be selected and a contract completed.

CPW will be responsible for maintenance and monitoring requirements for the duration of the project and 10 years thereafter — its projected useful life. Funding for management is through an annual State Wildlife Area Operational and Maintenance grant from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Any significant repairs will require funding approval through the CPW large capital construction program.

Caption: This Colorado Parks and Wildlife image shows the proposed boat ramp area.