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We can get our head around the Tar Creek watershed, we know those ephemeral streams who catch up to her and add their flows to her stream. We even can get the Neosho watershed because with Tar Creek we get knee deep into them at high water events or watch as the roads close and we automatically reroute our days' errands. But think bigger. Let's think about the whole Tri-State Mining District and those combined watersheds and get the calculator out to find it is 2,500 square miles of lands that from 1885 to 1970 engaged in hard rock mining. And all the land that was gouged open, dug into, scarred and left with her innards strewn about for all the world to see or climb upon ooze out metals every time the rains come.

Water the source of all life, can move mountains, can carve canyons and will bring down and through this grand watershed the stuff that all that mining left behind and blend it with the sediment it scours away and takes that load far from its source and deposits it time and again downstream. Year after year, rain event followed by rain events, these deposits land on land that was never mined - but as if we never mind-ed, it lays those deposits over and over. The loads accumulating and the plants who grow there, that thrive can harm us.

There is a model that is being discussed, which will be a visual take on what exactly is happening in the big watershed that both EPA's Region 6 and Region 7 have released to the public for you to have a chance to give comments back to them, by August 3. Officially it is entitled: Draft Fate and Transport Model Analysis and Proposal for the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study for the Tri-State Mining District.

The document discusses and explains the virtual model and how it can be manipulated to illustrate the actual lands and the waters that flow on it, through it and lie beneath it. And what happens if any bit of the landscape changes and how that change can impact or improve the environment it leaves behind. Looking at it in this way, studying it, messing with this more in one bend of the creek, leaving this chat pile and then removing it. All done on a computer which can analyze those actions and give the designers of our future quick immediate feedback, rather than get the bulldozers out and move material for a couple of years and find then that those actions might have HARMED us. Using this model can speed up the actions that will occur. At least that is what this document brings to us.

Note the first words: Fate and Transport. Our fate actually is being the center of this document, but it never says THAT. Fate and Transport is the movement of contaminants in sediment and floodplain soils from where they are to where they end up as water moves them. This model can allow us to see the various contaminants of concern and how they travel from their there and to us where we are.

Our fate is determined by that stuff and how it travels.

There is a real study of how water travels the natural path water takes to cut and scour and then deposit. "Water cannot be contained within the banks of the creeks and streams, so the water spreads out over the floodplain (with) the natural path it has." The hydrology of the Tri-State Mining District is almost mind blowing. All that has laid and left as residue lies in this larger watershed and please imagine with me those creeks, streams and rivers and where that water flows and where it comes to reside.

Think on a GRAND scale. That was a hint. The watershed drains to and is captured in our Grand Lake o' the Cherokees. That same lake that holds the waters coming and allows some waters to flow on through and generate power, until in-coming water can no longer be only maintained in time and space and begins to gather and spread outside the boundaries holding it, backing up our water until it comes in our front doors. We have worried simply of our carpets getting wet and the work it takes to muck out our homes and businesses to start over, but how does our environment muck out? It doesn't. Layer after layer of muck from the Tri-State Mining District has spread out on the environment broadly for over a hundred years. Flood after flood.

And this will continue until that source material throughout the 2,500 miles is removed.

The model can use historical data and the model's keeper is asked you, the public, to comment on how else and what else to consider. You get a voice. I am planning to use mine and hope you will too.

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim

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