Climax proposes changes to the water standards for molybdenum

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December 12 hearing scheduled

by Tara Walker, Grand Gazette BOCC reporter

During the October 17 Board of County Commissioner meeting, Katherine Morris, Grand County Water quality specialist, presented concerns over Climax proposing significant changes to the molybdenum standards for domestic and agricultural water supply.

Climax is proposing that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment allows molybdenum concentrations in domestic water to increase from 210 micrograms per liter to 9,000 micrograms per liter and for an increase in allowable levels in agricultural water to go from 190 micrograms to 1000 micrograms. These changes would primarily affect Summit and Grand County.

Morris expressed her concerns about the studies that Climax was presenting to the state and shareholders. She gave an example that the CSU study “looked at marbling and quality of meat, but did not look at reproduction or other systems or the general health of the animal”.

There is a December 12 hearing scheduled and Morris explained, “Grand County may want to submit comments separately from other participants because Summit is primarily concerned with drinking water and we are concerned with ag.” Commissioner Merritt Linke, “My initial reaction is no. Did they actually go boots on the ground to the tailings pond and the operations that are grazing cattle near there and see what the cattle are eating and drinking? I don’t think so. No would be the answer for me for changing that standard.”

On October 24, Climax Molybdenum sent Environmental Manager Bryce Romig, to respond to the concerns brought up during the October 17 meeting. He insisted that Climax cares for the environment and supports environmental efforts, “We firmly belief that the human health and agriculture standards that exists are based on inaccurate science.”

Linke explained the BOCC concern about the suggested changes in standards, “It appeared to be a 40 times factor increase at first glance. It appears to be a huge difference and we were a little shocked at that request.”

Romig replied, “It is a major increase, but it is borne of the science that has been ongoing since 2010. We’ve honestly told the water commission that this information was coming and we are proposing this based on a body of science.”

Grand County Board of County commissioners will have to decide whether they will make a statement at the December 12 hearing and whether they will support or oppose Climax’s proposal.