Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019CO034B

Snowmelt Modeling at Fine Scale for Mine Infiltration Estimation at Summitville

Institute: Colorado
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-03-01 End Date: 2020-02-29
Total Federal Funds: $4,241 Total Non-Federal Funds: $2,205

Principal Investigators: Steven Fassnacht

Abstract: The purpose of this proposed study is to apply a fine resolution hydrology model to understand melt water input at mines in Southern Colorado, in particular the Summitville Mine. Using the Follum snow model at a fine resolution (10 to 30 meter scale), we would use the model to estimate spatially distributed snowmelt, including the amount, rate and timing of snowmelt in the immediate area around and within the mine. This fine resolution would be useful to analyze meltwater infiltration above former underground mining infrastructure. While outflow rates and chemistry from these mines in this general region have been documented, inflow in this snowmelt dominated hydrological system is not well understood or modeled. The snowmelt modeling can provide detailed information for mine leakage mitigation and river restoration projects that are ongoing in the area. The Colorado Center for Avalanche Studies will provide us with snow data that we can use in the nearby Senator Beck Basin so we can correlate the presence of dust on snow to the variability of the local melt. Snowmelt modeling would benefit the water treatment program in Summitville and adjacent sites; a better understanding and more accurate estimates of flow, resulting from the model, would reduce the cost of maintenance on the local water plant. A model demonstrating what these snowmelt effects could be would allow for Summitville to adjust management, create long-term solutions, save money, and protect their environment and resources from further contamination and degradation.