Soda Butte Creek to be Delisted for Metals

Soda Butte Creek will be delisted for metals from the 303d impaired water’s list!  This is a result of many years of hard work in mine reclamation in the watershed. Bozeman Chronicle Interview is here. Soda Butte Creek flowing into Yellowstone National Park has been contaminated with heavy metals since gold and copper mining and milling began in the New World Mining District since the 1800s. In 2010, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Abandoned Mine Lands Program began removing mine tailings from the area of the historic McLaren Mill, near Cook City, Montana. The tailings – the powdery rock that is the byproduct of the milling (metal extraction) process – were leaching heavy metals and arsenic into Soda Butte Creek into Yellowstone National Park. By the project’s completion in 2014, DEQ had removed approximately 400,000 tons of mine tailings from Soda Butte Creek and its floodplain. Following the reclamation efforts, the National Park Service Greater Yellowstone Inventory and Monitoring Network conducted water quality sampling throughout the Soda Butte Watershed. The resulting data led to a determination in November 2017 by the DEQ Water Quality Bureau which determined that metals conditions in Soda Butte Creek support all beneficial uses. The EPA has concurred with this recommendation.  For DEQ and its project partners, this marks the first time in Montana that a waterbody has been delisted from the impaired waterbody list (303d) for metals following the successful implementation of abandoned mine cleanup.  Soda Butte Creek meets water quality standards flowing into Yellowstone National Park. The project was funded through a grant to DEQ from the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement to address abandoned mines. A DNRC Reclamation and Development Grant provided additional financial assistance.

Pioneer was the design, engineering and oversight of the McLaren Tailings Reclamation Project. Contact:  Joe McElroy

More about the McLaren Tailings Project