WARD, Colo. (AP) Residents of two small mountains towns are worried about a proposal to put 14 abandoned mines and mills in their communities on the federal Superfund list.
Located in the foothills northwest of Boulder, Ward and Jamestown have a combined population of about 450 people.
Town leaders say the hamlets would be financially devastated if federal officials hold them liable for any cleanup work.
They also think the designation could cripple the image of the communities, which draw people weary of the urban sprawl below them.
''These are teeny, tiny towns that could easily be bankrupted,'' said Ward Councilman Pete Gleichman.
Both towns and the Left Hand Water District have asked Boulder County and Gov. Bill Owens to delay asking the Environmental Protection Agency to put the mines on the Superfund list.
''We are saying, with a strong consensus, 'What's the rush?''' said Jamestown resident Steve Edelstein.
Both towns began as mining camps. Gold, silver and ore mines eventually petered out, leaving deep cuts in mountainsides and a potential environmental hazard, according to health officials.
Mining along Left Hand Creek and near Little James Creek left elevated levels of aluminum, beryllium, cadmium, copper, lead, lead manganese, zinc and acidity in the water.
The residue has left creeks and ponds near the mine sites virtually lifeless. State and federal officials also worry that drinking water for 14,000 homes in the Left Hand District could become tainted.
The water district believes the drinking water is safe because it draws water farther downstream.