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Poison in the Rockies

Poison in the Rockies

Here is PBS's updated 'Nova' version of the award-winning DOWNWIND/DOWNSTREAM, documenting the serious threat to water quality, sub-alpine ecosystems and public health in the Colorado Rockies from mining operations, acid rain and urbanization.

50% of the material in this 'Nova' version is new. Increasing emphasis has been given to the scientific side of the story--from an explanation of Rocky Mountain geology and the development of aquifers, to detailing how the thousands of small abandoned mines contaminate water sources by leaching heavy metals into the rivers and streams.

More time has also been given to the story of today's vast mining operations, such as the Climax Molybdenum Mine owned by AMAX. Included are new interviews with mining officials and Charles Wilkinson, Professor of Law at the University of Colorado, who discusses the evolution of water battles in the West from questions of water supply to water contamination, and now mining regulations, which he describes as being in their infancy.

Cities as far apart as El Paso, Phoenix, Denver and Los Angeles depend on clean water from the Rockies for their water supply. In addition to the mining operations, that water supply is now threatened by acid rain and acid snow. Together these problems also represent a potent threat to the $10 billion Western tourism industry. This is a story about our society's waste products and the necessity of cleaning up our act now before it's too late.