Skagit-Watershed-Overview-Map

This Skagit Environmental Endowment Commission map shows the Skagit River watershed’s reach across British Columbia and Washington. The donut hole, where possible mining is a concern near the river’s headwaters, is marked in yellow.

The growing opposition to potential mining at the headwaters of the Skagit River in British Columbia now includes the city of Mount Vernon and the Skagit Public Utility District.

The Skagit PUD Commission passed a resolution April 27, and the Mount Vernon City Council passed a resolution April 28. Each highlighted drinking water as an utmost concern.

“As the largest water purveyor in Skagit County, serving potable water to more than 80,000 people from mountain streams in the Skagit River Basin, we have an obligation to protect the source of our water,” PUD General Manager George Sidhu said in a news release from the nonprofit Washington Wild, which is coordinating an international coalition against proposed copper and gold mining in a region called the “donut hole.”

That circular portion of land where Canadian company Imperial Metals has proposed searching for copper and gold sits between large swaths of protected lands: British Columbia’s Skagit Valley and E.C. Manning provincial parks.

The 253-member coalition against the proposed mining say the threat of contamination entering the nearly pristine river is too great — for communities that drink the water, those who grow and consume food irrigated with that water and those who value culturally and rely economically on salmon and the marine ecosystem supported by a healthy watershed.

“We cannot afford the chance of mining upstream contaminating the Skagit River and our water supply with toxic chemicals such as arsenic, copper, lead, aluminum and mercury,” Sidhu said.

The PUD resolution states that its water treatment plant isn’t capable of addressing those heavy metals in high concentrations.

That has the city of Mount Vernon, which relies on the PUD for water, also concerned.

“Mount Vernon has grave concern about Imperial Mining Corporation’s mining proposals in the upper Skagit River watershed area known as the ‘Donut Hole’ and the impacts these proposals will have on our community, environment, and future,” the city’s resolution states.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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