Nevada City grabs $200K grant |

Nevada City grabs $200K grant

Nevada City was recently awarded $200,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency to assess the presence of heavy metals leftover from former mining operations, which may be affecting local water supplies.

Preliminary work and historical research show elevated concentrations of mercury and arsenic may exist in or around some of Nevada City’s old mining sites, the EPA said in a statement regarding the Brownfields Program, through which the funds were allocated.

“Contamination from Nevada City mine sites impacts numerous downstream communities by contaminating water and drinking water supplies and elevating mercury levels in fish. Deer Creek in particular is an important drinking water source for low-income rural areas,” EPA stated.

Joanne Hild, biologist and director of Friends of Deer Creek, said miners poured mercury into rivers and creeks because it adheres to gold, causing it to sink and become easier to find.

Mercury can enter the food chain through bacterial processes, Hild said, adding that more studies need to be done to assess local impacts of mining activity on water quality and the environment. Friends of Deer Creek will be performing the assessment, she said, in concert with outside technical assistance and public input.

Nevada City “floated to the top of the heap as a good project,” said Deirdre Nurre, the project’s manager for the EPA, adding that pollution caused by mining is an “important issue.”

The grant money must be used within two years, Hild said.


To reach staff writer Josh Singer, e-mail or call 477-4234.

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