Wishing on the City fountains

I'm sure, what with water restrictions in both municipalities, that no one would water their lawn, or the sidewalk, or the street on a Monday or off days. Right?

The funny thing about watering those sidewalks and streets is they just don't get any greener.

I saw someone in Ouray watering the Uncompahgre River last week from the east side of the city. It's an interesting technique. First, water the sidewalk and street until they are saturated. This should take about three seconds. Then, watch as the water runs downhill all the way to the river. There you have it — you're a self-made water replenishment system. Maybe the city should adopt this system. It could water the pool parking lot with pool discharge water and watch it run off into the river, skipping this whole tedious business of getting approval from CDPHE.

We're expecting the city to install six new aerators in the "City Fountains" — formally known as the wastewater treatment ponds — on the north end of town any day now. I didn't know the two odor-emitting ponds were fondly referred to as the City Fountains until I ran into a couple in Ouray who own a home up that way. I think they move around a lot, always trying to stay upwind. The City Fountains aren't the ornamental type you throw coins into and make a wish. But if you're feeling wishful, don't worry. The city has that part covered. It's throwing plenty of money into those ponds.

Speaking of sludge ponds, the Environmental Protection Agency can't seem to stop stepping on its shoelaces in Silverton. The EPA giveth, and taketh away, and giveth right back again, according to a report in the Durango Herald Monday. When the EPA announced earlier this year that its sludge pond, the Gladstone, meant as a temporary water treatment plant to hold Gold King Mine spill waste discharges, was full, it decided to haul sludge to the Kittimac, a historic mine waste site. Monday, a truck hauling an estimated nine cubic yards of sludge slipped off a county road, turned over and lost sludge, motor oil and all into Cement Creek.
You'll recall that Cement Creek was the conduit for the Gold King Mine waste when the EPA accidentally set loose millions of gallons of toxic waste into the Animas River. The driver of the truck Monday, thankfully, was unharmed. And the waterway? It's fortunate the spill occurred in Cement Creek, because those fish are getting used to the toxins.

Talk about a one-two punch for Silverton. Between the 416 Fire and the train not running, to say the economy of our southern neighbor has been crippled would be the understatement of the year. In another Durango Herald article dated June 21, Al Harper, owner of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad said 33,000 rider trips had been cancelled to that point, and 150 employees of the railroad were furloughed. The region, according to Harper, has suffered over $21 million in losses. "We have destroyed Silverton's economy," Harper told the Durango Herald.
This week's mud slide on US 550 was just another blow to the town of 630-some people in the smallest county in Colorado. The slides cut off traffic from the north. It's no secret that Silverton businesses, like some in Ouray, borrow money during the lean winter months and pay it back in the summer. This summer is going to make next year even more of a struggle.

Alan Todd is co-publisher of the Ouray County Plaindealer. He can be reached at atodd@ouraynews.com.