by Ed Rapp, President, Clear Creek Watershed Foundation

The Aorta Seep is a closed mine adit for which there is no Potentially Responsible Party (PRP). The waters are acidic and heavily metals-laden.

Incorporated in 1997, the Clear Creek Watershed Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the ecological, aesthetic, recreational, and economic conditions in the Clear Creek Watershed through cooperative efforts with watershed stakeholders. The Foundation recently launched a new web site — — that provides comprehensive information about the past, present, and future of the Clear Creek Watershed.
Historically, the Foundation’s work has focused on improving the water quality of Clear Creek and its tributaries through mine remediation projects. However, for the past year the Foundation has been researching and developing sustainable watershed management tools and techniques. The process of sustainable watershed management involves project evaluation through the integration of ecological, economic and social values. According to CCWF president Ed Rapp, “Experience shows that a more sustainable approach enhances values for all living things in the watershed.”
Based on watershed-wide stakeholder input, the most imminent threats to the sustainability of the Clear Creek Watershed are:

  1. Proposed Interstate 70 Expansion
  2. Potential Large-Scale Wildfire
  3. Metals Loading
  4. Sediment Loading
  5. Nutrient Loading
  6. Toxic Spills/Incidents
  7. Growth/Development
  8. Drought

Because water flows downhill and carries with it the effects of nature and human activity, concern for a river’s health includes concern for the health of the entire watershed system. Natural and manmade systems respond to cause and effect. In order for decisions to be made in favor of sustainable practices, decision makers must be provided with compelling qualitative and quantitative information that relates to cause and effect in the system. This information can then be applied to various projects to document the geographic extent of the improvement.

Remediation and preservation of the Maude Monroe-Donna Juanita mine site offers environmental, economic and social benefits to the watershed.

To that end, the Foundation has developed watershed-scale tools to evaluate public and private watershed project investments on a “sustainability basis” by defining and surveying the latest envirometrics, econometrics, and sociometrics as they relate to the Clear Creek Watershed. These data are given a specific value ranking, then those values are applied to projects. These tools also provide a way to measure benefit for watershed sustainability.
The Foundation has applied this technique to prioritize roughly 80 watershed-based sustainability projects which promote innovation and cooperation, and which provide the best “bang for the buck.” These projects are arranged into the following eight market areas:

  1. Orphan (Abandoned) Mine Remediation
  2. Natural Resource Management
  3. Water and Wastewater Management
  4. Preservation and Promotion of Historic Mine Sites
  5. Alternative Energy and Transportation
  6. Waste Stream Reduction
  7. Subsurface Rights and Uses
  8. Education and Outreach

The Foundation’s goals are to get these projects done by facilitating cooperative partnerships/funding and to encourage the broader application of sustainable and regenerative watershed practices throughout the arid mountain west. Locally, the Foundation is working to provide jurisdictions, agencies, and developers in the watershed with information and tools to make sustainability-focused decisions regarding environmental restoration/protection activities and development practices. The Foundation believes that promoting these and future projects will make Clear Creek and its communities a more sustainable and regenerative watershed — as defined by the synergy of ecologic, social, and economic values.
In our every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.

from the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy

Clear Creek Watershed Foundation
P. O. Box 1963 2060 Miner Street Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Ed Rapp, President
Carl Norbeck, Director of Resources
Chris Crouse, Outreach Coordinator

Colorado Riparian Association