High in the Colorado San Juan Mountains, the Summitville Mine was operated by Canadian mining company Galactic Resources as a cyanide heap leach mine from 1986 until abandoned in 1992. Acid mine drainage resulted in continuous contamination of water used by downstream neighbors, including farmers, ranchers, fishermen and wildlife. Named a Superfund site in 1994, the Summitville Mine killed off 17 miles of the Alamosa River, requiring permanent water treatment at the river's headwaters.
Dr. Colin Henderson led San Luis Valley neighbors to form the Alliance for Responsible Mining. Their ten-year saga of efforts to prevent future Summitville Mine disasters relates the David vs. Goliath effort of communities against industries that wield unlimited power to preempt democracy and efforts by people at the level of local government to protect their health, safety, water and environment.