The Red & Bonita Mine is located in the Upper Cement Creek drainage near Silverton, Colorado in the San Juan Mountain Range. Cement Creek drains into the Animas River water system which acts as a major water body for both drinking water and recreation.
Historically the mine has drained metallic leachate and highly acidic Mine Impacted Water (MIW) into Cement Creek. In 2015, the EPA removal team installed a large concrete plug called a "bulkhead" in the mine to flood the inner workings of the mine and prevent the creation of acids. The bulkhead prevents the creation of acid mine water by preventing the mixture of oxygen necessary to create acids.
Currently, the Remedial program is testing
and studying the feasibility of permanently using this bulkhead. Meanwhile, the
MIW drainage flows across and through an iron fen down gradient of the adit.
The iron fen is a sensitive wetland ecosystem that requires specific pH levels.
The flow of MIW into the fen threatens to both physically and chemically change
the iron fen.
In August 2023, the EPA Removal Team diverted the MIW outflow around the main section of the iron fen via an earthen channel. To accomplish this, the Removal Team moved the existing conveyance line that previously outflowed into the iron fen to a new culvert location underneath the road. The culvert now drains into an earthen channel and flows into a naturally existing channel at the bottom of the iron fen before entering Cement Creek. The Removal Team also jetted the conveyance lines and cleared the system of any known blockages.