A state agency issued a cease-and-desist order Friday against the 16-to-1 Mine, but that doesn't mean the gold mine has to immediately stop discharging water into Kanaka Creek.
"They have until March of 2005 to come into full compliance, but there's a lot they have to do in the meantime," said David Carlson of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The water board is requiring that the water that seeps naturally from the mine meet new federal drinking water quality standards for arsenic.
Under the cease-and-desist order, the mine has 45 days to submit a plan for studying arsenic. Then it will have a year to complete the study and 2-1/2 years to start controlling the amount of arsenic the mine discharges into Kanaka Creek.
Full compliance is required by March 2005.
Asked how the mine might reduce arsenic in its discharge, Carlson said, "There are filtration methods that remove extremely fine particles that could help take out the arsenic."
There's a 30-day period during which the mine can appeal the regional board's ruling to its parent agency, the California Water Quality Control Board.
Mike Miller, the mine's chief executive officer, said Monday he doesn't know yet whether he'll appeal.
For now, he says he's drafting a letter to the regional board and, "I'm looking for their help."
"The water code says that once a cease-and-desist order is given, the water board is required to give full assistance to the discharger for (developing a) remedy," Miller said.
Reporter for The Union