City wants public comments on AJ Mine Water Study

The public comment period on the AJ Mine Water Study ends March 28th.

The report is an overview of Juneau’s water system, and identifies several scenarios and management concepts, with and without a nearby operating gold mine.

For the past year, the CBJ Assembly has been investigating whether to pursue re-opening the old AJ Mine near downtown. The ore body is partially owned by the city and is in Last Chance Basin – the main source of Juneau’s water.

A mine advisory task force in May urged the city to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the water supply – hence the report. Released late last month, CBJ Engineering Director Rorie Watt has been holding a series of meetings around Juneau on the draft report. Wednesday night he told about 25 gathered at city hall that public comments are important.

“What we’re looking for is comments about the substance of the report,” he said. “We’re not really interested at this time in opinions about whether mining is a good or bad idea. The task at hand really is to thoroughly vet the water issue.”

The water study offers several scenarios, ranging from no action to leasing the AJ property to a mining company.

“Upgrading Salmon Creek or abandoning Gold Creek, or finding a new water supply or diverting the drain tunnel, or improving the mine draining system or reducing the water that flows into the mine drainage system,” Watt said.

Watt says public comments on the draft will be submitted to the Assembly with the final report.

The AJ Mine Water Study and a comment form are available on the city’s website.

The Assembly set $250,000 aside for various tasks associated with the feasibility of re-opening the AJ Mine, including the water study. Watt told the Assembly recently that about $80,000 has been spent on the project so far.

Assembly members are expected to discuss the issue on April 9th at a Committee of the Whole meeting.