Don’t Mine Our Water
This tapestry, 5th in the series of 13 tapestries planned for the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center, describes events between 1975 and 1997 on the San Juan Ridge. During these years there were a number of attempts at gold mining in an old Diggings near North Columbia. The community-organized San Juan Ridge Taxpayers Association led the resistance against these mining efforts.
Some of the proposed mines were open pit mines, one tunneled deep into the gravels. In order to tunnel, millions of gallons of groundwater a day were pumped out to dewater the gravels.
The water well for Grizzly Hill School dried up along with many other wells in the neighborhood. The miners dug new wells, but the new wells were many times deeper, required more expense to pump and the water was undrinkable. Grizzly Hill School has had to buy bottled water for more than 10 years.
Community members researched mining issues, the effects on groundwater, the creeks, the ecosystem, and the effects of dust and other types of mining pollution. Internal coordination was by a phone tree. The Taxpayers Association raised money for experts and lawyers by holding auctions and poetry readings. The Association coordinated with other neighborhood groups in the County, and gave testimony at public meetings.
In 2012, a new dewatering mine was proposed.