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Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Abatement Program

Ohio’s inventory of abandoned mine land problems includes 1,300 miles of streams impacted by acid mine drainage.

The Division of Mineral Resources Management supports and assists local efforts aimed at restoring streams to their pre-mining ecological condition and to construct acid mine drainage (AMD) remediation projects that demonstrate cost-effective environmental benefits.

ACID MINE DRAINAGE

Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) is acidic water laden with heavy metals such as iron, aluminum and others as well as sulfates that originate through the oxidation of geologic strata containing sulfide minerals. These sulfide minerals are exposed during mining. AMD can be alkaline as well, if limestone or other alkaline geologic strata are present.

Abatement & Treatment

Design of the correct system for each mine site to be reclaimed takes additional time for surveying, drilling, sample analyses and design plan preparation. Along with landowner negotiations and leveraging funding from outside partners, considerable time can be expended before reclamation or treatment even begins.

Source control is the preferred method of abatement for reducing mine drainage problems. It is a one-time cost and eliminates the problem with little to no future maintenance obligation, such as:

  • reclamation of stream capturing subsidence
  • reclamation of toxic spoil
  • remining

Treatment is not desired but necessary for areas where source control is not feasible. Treatment can be passive (requiring little operation or maintenance) or it can be active (requiring regular operation and maintenance), including:

  • lime doser
  • wetland
  • steel slag leach bed
  • anoxic limestone drain
  • limestone rock channel, rock dam and leach bed
  • vertical flow pond (composed of limestone and compost)

WATERSHED RESTORATION

The Acid Mine Drainage Abatement Program evaluates the degree and impact of AMD on streams and rivers in the coal bearing region of Ohio.

The goal is to:

  • better understand the extent of the AMD problem in Ohio,
  • develop Acid Mine Drainage and Abatement plans (AMDATs) where applicable, 
  • implement AMD remediation or treatment projects where streams or rivers can be expected to improve to meet state biological water quality standards.

The Non-point Source (NPS) Monitoring Project tracks the long term water quality improvement plans and achievements for watershed restoration in Ohio's AMD watersheds; the most recent Annual Report for AMD Watershed Restoration can be seen on the website for this project.

Watershed Assessment

Division of Mineral Resources Management staff assessed 134 12-digit hydrologic unit code (HUC) watersheds in Ohio’s coal counties and documented the presence of acid mine drainage in 83 watersheds. The remaining 51 watersheds were assessed as having little or no impact from AMD.

Those watersheds/streams most likely to recover biologically if AMD abatement and treatment is initiated receive the highest priority rating for funding consideration.

Locating the source of all mine drainage in a watershed is critical to understanding which sites are responsible for the majority of pollutant loads. This enables the selection of the least expensive and most effective design for restoring streams to a healthy condition. A minimum of one year of investigation and sampling is usually necessary to understand the seasonal flow patterns of abandoned mine sites.

AMD Watersheds

Alliance for Watershed Action and Riparian Easements (AWARE)
- an alliance of stewards for the Mill Creek, Meander Creek and Yellow Creek watersheds

Huff Run Watershed 

Leading Creek Watershed 

Monday Creek Watershed

Moxahala Creek Watershed

Muskingum Watershed 

Raccoon Creek Watershed

Rush Creek Watershed 

Sunday Creek Watershed 

Wills Creek Watershed

Projects

The Division of Mineral Resources Management develops Acid Mine Drainage and Abatement (AMDAT) plans required for project funding consideration. An AMDAT exclusively addresses watershed-specific monitoring and abatement plans, identifying mine drainage sources and problems so that limited funds can be allocated to abate the highest priority problems.

PROGRAM AREAS

Each of the following program areas can be used by the Division of Mineral Resources Management, in partnership with other agencies and organizations, to address Ohio’s mine drainage problems impacting streams and water supplies. Collectively, the Acid Mine Drainage Abatement Program provides for numerous opportunities to mitigate mine drainage problems in a holistic manner, in addition to continuing the abatement of other abandoned mine land problems causing adverse impacts to the public.

For more info, see website page for Signs of a problem: Abandoned Mine Lands.

Partnerships

The Division of Mineral Resources Management (DMRM) recognizes that the role of government is to assist the public in its desire to restore the quality of water resources in local communities impacted by acid mine drainage (AMD).

As such, DMRM is committed to developing partnerships with local community watershed groups, and other governmental agencies in order to pool resources and leverage funds. It is the objective of DMRM in developing such partnerships to support and assist local efforts aimed at restoring streams to their pre-mining ecological condition, and to construct AMD remediation projects that demonstrate cost-effective environmental benefits.

Partnerships that presently exist in the AMD program include numerous local watershed groups such as the Monday Creek Restoration Project, the Raccoon Creek Partnership, the Huff Run Watershed Restoration Partnership, the Sunday Creek Watershed Group, the Leading Creek Watershed Group, as well as numerous government agencies and private industry including the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Geological Survey, the US EPA, the US Office of Surface Mining, the US Forest Service, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio Dept. of Transportation, Rural Action Inc., the Wilds, the Division of Wildlife, the Division of Soil and Water Conservation, the Division of Parks and Recreation, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, Ohio University, University of Akron, Hocking College, as well as local county soil and water conservation districts. The list of participants in this effort continues to expand as partnering and networking efforts multiply across the state.

AMD Set-Aside Program

The Ohio legislature established the Acid Mine Drainage Abatement and Treatment (AMDAT) fund in March 1995. The Division of Mineral Resources Management (DMRM) transfers up to 30% of the annual federal Abandoned Mine Land (AML) grant into the AMDAT fund. Based upon present AML grant levels, DMRM transfers approximately $2.4 million into the fund annually. Grant moneys placed into the AMDAT fund, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code section 1513.37(E), are utilized to abate mine drainage problems within watersheds that have been approved as hydrologic units. Priority will be given to the expenditure of AMDAT funds whenever other sources of funding can be leveraged through the expenditure of AMDAT moneys (the AMDAT funds are considered “state money” and can therefore be used to match federal funds from other programs). It is the purpose of the AMDAT fund to provide for the long-term clean up of watersheds impacted by AMD in accordance with the criteria established in ORC section 1513.37(E) for hydrologic units.

Local community watershed groups, and other governmental agencies may request assistance from DMRM in developing watershed abatement plans, such that AMDAT funds can be expended for AMD abatement. DMRM can provide assistance in the form of subsurface drilling, development of watershed monitoring plans, laboratory analysis of water samples, matching funding for water monitoring, hydrology and engineering technical assistance, construction contract administration, and construction oversight. Once watershed restoration plans are developed for a hydrologic unit or for a subwatershed within a hydrologic unit, DMRM may also provide matching funding for the purpose of construction of an abatement project. Individual projects are eligible to receive matching funds through AMDAT if such projects are within an approved hydrologic unit and the project has been demonstrated to be a priority component of a watershed restoration plan.

State-Funded Abandoned Mine Land Program

The mission of the state-funded AML program is to address environmental problems associated with abandoned mines affected prior to April 10, 1972. See website page on AML Reclamation Programs. The program is funded through a state severance tax on coal and other minerals which generates revenue for use in the state AML program. Funds from this program are matched with outside resources in order to leverage additional total dollars for a specific project. DMRM may also fund AMD abatement projects, monitoring, site assessment and subsurface investigative work on a case-by-case basis.

Grants to Watershed Groups

In March 1999, the Division of Mineral Resources Management received authority to grant money from the AMDAT fund directly to watershed groups in accordance with the following criteria:

  • The watershed group meets the criteria for a charitable organization as defined in Ohio Revised Code section 1716.01;
  • The watershed group provides matching funding, including in-kind services, for 50% of the cost of the proposed project;
  • The funds are used for the following:
    • data collection and analysis necessary to qualify a watershed as a "hydrologic unit";
    • monitoring of water quality changes resulting from an abatement project;
    • engineering design and construction costs for a priority reclamation project in the qualified hydrologic unit.

See AMD Watersheds section for more watershed information and current map of AMD-impacted watersheds.

Remining

The Division of Mineral Resources Management (DMRM) recognizes that remining can result in a significant contribution to the restoration of watersheds impacted by acid mine drainage. See website page on coal remining. In watersheds targeted for restoration, DMRM will examine the potential for remining, and will offer incentives to encourage remining if technologically and economically feasible. The objectives of using remining incentives will be the same as the overall AMD program – the restoration of streams biologically impaired by drainage from abandoned mines.

FUNDING

The Ohio legislature established the Acid Mine Drainage Abatement and Treatment (AMDAT) fund in March 1995. The Division of Mineral Resources Management transfers up to 30% of the annual federal Abandoned Mine Land (AML) grant into the AMDAT fund. Grant moneys placed into the AMDAT fund, pursuant to Ohio Revised Code section 1513.37(E)are utilized to provide for the long-term clean up of mine drainage problems within watersheds that have been approved as hydrologic units.