BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – The Blue River turned orange over the weekend in Breckenridge due to a mine runoff, but health officials say the discoloration poses no risk to public health.
The rust-colored water flowing through Breckenridge was reported to Summit County officials at around 3:15 p.m. Saturday. After investigating, fire officials and a hazmat unit determined the runoff came from a known release point in the area of Boreas Pass Road – an area that has produced similar runoffs of the thick, orange stream in the past, according to a statement from the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District.
The fire protection district reached out to state, county and local environmental agencies and determined there was no immediate risk to human health.
“However, out of an abundance of caution, we recommend that people and pets avoid contact with this water. Untreated surface water should never be consumed, and that would certainly be the case here, too,” said Summit County Environmental Health Manager Dan Hendershott.
Citing historical information, fire officials said the runoff is expected to last up to 24 hours.
“Given the rainfall that occurred last night, it is not surprising that we are seeing this type of activity today,” said Drew Hoehn, Battalion Chief and incident commander for Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District. “We realize the optics of the run-off are in stark contrast to what folks are normally used to seeing in the Blue River, but we are confident in the assessment and assurance of the public’s welfare in this particular situation,”
The Blue River is one of the primary sources for the Dillon Reservoir – a main source of water for Denver and the Front Range.