Effects of Acid Mine Drainage and Strategies to Remediate

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.