STATEMENT REGARDING NEVADA COUNTY APPROVAL OF EIR CONSULTANT FOR PROPOSED RE-OPENING OF SAN JUAN RIDGE MINE
Today, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors approved a contract for $179,811 with consultants PMC to prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed re-opening of the San Juan Ridge Mine. The San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association (SJRTA) commends Nevada County’s decision to prepare a full EIR for the project in light of the possibility of significant negative impacts to the water supply, environment and local economy.
Because the applicant promised no impacts to water when the mine originally opened in 1993, the SJRTA was willing to accept the project with mitigations. But the applicant was wrong, and the mine caused dewatering of 12 wells in the surrounding community, including the well for our local elementary school. Some wells were contaminated with a variety of metals and minerals. To this day, the school’s water must be treated at the school district’s expense to meet drinking water quality standards.
The proposed San Juan Ridge Mine would operate in close proximity to our public elementary school, our only medical clinic, our community cultural center, and businesses that employ more than 200 people. Says SJRTA president Gary Parsons, “The mine could devastate our water supply and our community, further poison the water that we provide for our school children, and damage our economy and our natural environment.”
While we commend the County for requiring an EIR for the project, the SJRTA has concerns that the EIR be fully funded. Given the broad range of potential environmental impacts and magnitude of potential effects, and the difficulty of understanding underground water supplies, there is a need for special analytical tools that may be costly. Costs for the recently proposed Idaho-Maryland Mine’s Environmental Impact Report were estimated to be $440,000. Impacts at the San Juan Ridge Mine site would also include potential dumping into sensitive creeks and habitat for rare wildlife species, as well as a more complex hydrologic system, and thus EIR costs may be higher.
The San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association will provide more information as to our concerns when a formal Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement is made available by Nevada County in the coming weeks.
The San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association (SJRTA) is a membership organization representing taxpayer interests on the San Juan Ridge of Nevada County, CA since 1974. The SJRTA membership includes taxpaying residents and non-resident landowners of the San Juan Ridge and other local concerned citizens.