Effects of Acid Mine Drainage and Strategies to Remediate

William J. Leonetti, PE, CFM, Project Engineer, RK&K

Historical mining operations have left the country with abandoned mine lands and other nonpoint sources of pollution that produce Acid Mine Drainage (AMD).  When subsurface sulfide materials are exposed to oxygen and water, a sulfuric acid is produced that is capable of dissolving heavy metals and mobilizing them into solution.  This presentation will discuss analysis of a small tributary to the Cheat River, Lick Run, which has been heavily impaired by AMD through legacy coal mining.  Field and laboratory water quality testing verified that Lick Run does not meet Water Quality Standards (WQS), established by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP).  The purpose of this study was to evaluate existing stream conditions of Lick Run and provide means of remediation through reduction of metal and acidity loads.

Lick Run is located in Preston County, West Virginia.  Within the watershed, a total of six mine portals and three in-stream sites were monitored, along with two locations on the Cheat River.  Water quality testing was performed quarterly between July 2013 to May 2014.  Field tests measured pH, conductivity, total dissolved solids (TDS), dissolved oxygen (DO), and temperature.  Grab samples were analyzed for pH, alkalinity, acidity, sulfate (S04), conductivity, iron (Fe), aluminum (Al), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and manganese (Mn).  Benthic macro-invertebrate communities were also assessed at the in-stream sampling locations (October 2013 and May 2014).

Watershed characteristics were evaluated to help assess pollutant transfer fates.  Characteristics included coal seam boundaries, elevations, soils, land use, impervious surfaces, imagery, natural wetland areas, sampling locations, problem area description locations, and abandoned mine lands.

A remediation solution was identified and will be outlined in the presentation.


Author Bio

William Leonetti is a Project Engineer for Rummel, Klepper & Kahl (RK&K) and has over 7 years of professional experience. He is certified in VA, MD, and DC as a Professional Engineer (PE) and is as a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM). He received both Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Civil Engineering from West Virginia University in 2013 and 2014, respectively. William is co-author of the published Watershed Based Plan for Little Tenmile Creek (HUC-8 #05020002) and co-author of another Watershed Based Plan that is in press – for Lick Run of the Cheat River. Will’s professional focus has been on water resources, mainly hydrology and hydraulics, storm water management conveyance and design, and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).