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Ground-Water Monitoring in the Tucson Copper Mining District

Description: Abstract: Ground-water and tailings pond monitoring in the Upper Santa Cruz Basin Mines Task Force's Special Studies Area has been performed to determine the nature and extent of aquifer contamination from copper tailings pond's recharge in the basin. A monitoring program for each of three mining areas (Mines A, B, and D) was developed. Analysis of data shows that recharge from Mine A's ponds has caused increased hardness, sulfate and total dissolved solids in local ground water. However, pumpage in the area has controlled most of the water's movement. Pond recharge from Mine B has led to similar conditions, and the degraded water is moving towards a local public-supply well. Pumpage from Mine D's interceptor wells is controlling some, but not all, of the movement of recharge seepage from Mine D's ponds. Recommendations include the need for enhanced monitoring programs at each current mine site, development of a monitoring program for Mine C's area, development of water budgets for all mines, investigation of tailings pond compaction and sliming, establishment of mine closure plans for containment of recharged pond water, and the need for additional interceptor wells in several locations.
Date: July 1983