U.S. Department of the Interior - U.S. Geological Survey
NUMBER 4, December 1995
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It should not be quoted or cited as a publication.
ACIDIC-MINE-DRAINAGE PROJECTS IN PENNSYLVANIA
Submitted by Chuck Cravotta
During 200 years of coal mining, Pennsylvania produced more
than 25 percent of the nation's total coal output and presently ranks
fourth in the nation in annual coal production by state. Coalfields are
included within, or extend into, the four major river basins in
Pennsylvania--the Ohio, Susquehanna, Potomac, and Delaware River Basins.
Bituminous coal deposits underlie western and north-central Pennsylvania,
and anthracite deposits underlie east-central and northeastern Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania's bituminous coal is used mostly for electric-power generation;
anthracite is used for electric-power generation and home heating.
Acidic drainage from numerous abandoned coal mines has contaminated more
than 2,400 miles of streams and associated ground waters in Pennsylvania and is
the most extensive water-pollution problem affecting the four major river
basins in Pennsylvania. Although abandoned underground mines cause most of the
contamination, some recently mined and reclaimed surface mines have produced
acidic discharges and have degraded local ground-water and surface-water resources.
Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have documented the extent
of surface-water and ground-water degradation associated with coal mining in
Pennsylvania and have evaluated the effects of mining and reclamation practices
and water-treatment methods intended to reduce contamination by mines. Recent
USGS studies have been supported by funds and services from the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency; the U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining
Reclamation and Enforcement; the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental
Protection (formerly Department of Environmental Resources); the Philadelphia
Water Department; and the Somerset County Conservation District. Coal companies
and the Pennsylvania State University also participated in these studies.
Updates of four current projects are presented below.
Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA)
PA215:The Stonycreek River and Little
Conemaugh River Acid Mine Drainage Study
PA237:Limestone Drains to Increase pH
and Remove Dissolved Metals from an Acidic
Coal-Mine Discharge in the Swatara Creek Watershed
PA226:Effects of Nutrients on the
Formation of Acidic Mine Drainage