Paradox Valley

The Colorado River Desalination Plant

According to a High Country News article, the Paradox Valley in western Colorado was formed millions of years ago, when a huge dome of salt collapsed. Now, that salt remains and the waters of the Dolores River pick it up and carry it to the Colorado River, where it eventually degrades the water quality for downstream users. For nearly 50 years the Paradox Valley Unit, which is operated by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, has been treating the salt problem. According to the article, the unit treats nearly 200 gallons of brine every minute—this is seven times saltier than ocean water. The brine is then injected into a formation about 2.5 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. The formation, however, will eventually fill up rendering the unit useless. According to the HCN article, there are no obvious replacement options, and officials do not know how long they have left, but estimate 10 to 20 years. 

October 12, 2015--The Colorado River’s desalination plant is on its last legs (High Country News)

The Paradox Valley in western Colorado got its name because the Dolores River bisects it, rather than running through it in the normal topographical fashion. The landscape is short on people, long on sagebrush and probably best known for the dramatic red cliffs that loom over travelers making the long drive from Telluride, Colorado, to Moab, Utah.

June 11, 2013--Lawmaker starts cleaning uranium mines (Durango Herald)

State Rep. Don Coram is taking steps to clean up and shut down four uranium mines he owns, making him among the first uranium mine operators in Colorado to call it quits for now and restore the land to its pre-mined condition.

March 21, 2012--Working from the ground up (Telluride Daily Planet)

Think about what you would do with 160 acres of land along the lower Dolores River in Paradox Valley. Keep in mind that approximately 60 percent of that land is inhabited by invasive plants — mostly tamarisk and knapweed.

January 27, 2012--Paradox Valley’s salty desert river (Telluride News)

Paradox Valley is an expansive and desolate swath of land on the western edge of Montrose County. Unlike most valleys, the Dolores River cuts across the redrock landscape instead of running the length of the valley.

Novembe 25, 2011--BuRec eyes salinity-control alternatives (Montrose Press)

When it comes to addressing salinity levels in the Dolores River, it may be time to “think outside the well.” The Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public input on whether to continue using deep-well injection methods to reduce salinity loads where the river flows through the Paradox Valley, or to consider evaporative ponds.

October 28, 2011--EPA approves uranium mill pond near Naturita (Durango Herald)

A proposed Paradox Valley uranium mill cleared another hurdle Thursday, winning government approval to build 40 acres of wastewater ponds. The Environmental Protection Agency granted the approval to Energy Fuels Resources Corp., which has plans to build the country’s first uranium mill in

September 10, 2009--Proposed uranium mill deeply divides southwestern Colorado communities (Colorado Independent)

Montrose County commissioners delayed a decision on a controversial uranium mill proposal Wednesday after nearly six hours of public testimony that underscored deep divisions between longtime mining families and residents of neighboring Telluride and San Miguel County.

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