Skip navigation
Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse
Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse: Environmental resources for tribal energy development
Energy Resources Assessments & Monitoring Laws & Regulations
Energy Resources Assessments & Monitoring Laws & Regulations |  Home  |  News  |  FAQ  |  Glossary
Document Library
Federal and Tribal Contacts

Water Resources Mitigation Measures

Mitigation measures to avoid or reduce water resource impacts from coal mining.

The following are examples of mitigation measures that could be applied to reduce water resource impacts of a project depending upon site- and project-specific conditions. Impacts to water resources are related to the project footprint (e.g., land disturbance, erosion, changes in runoff patterns, and hydrological alterations), project emissions (e.g., sediment runoff, acid mine drainage, and water releases), and resource use (e.g., water extraction). Many impacts can be reduced or avoided when considered during the siting and design phase.

Develop a final set of mitigation measures for any project in consultation with the appropriate federal resource management agencies and stakeholders. Conduct these consultations early in the project development process and preferably prior to final project siting and design.

Siting and Design Mitigation Measures

Siting and design considerations that mitigate impacts include:

  • Identify and avoid unstable slopes and local factors that can cause slope instability (groundwater conditions, precipitation, seismic activity, slope angles, and geologic structure).
  • Research local hydrogeology. Identify areas of groundwater discharge and recharge and their potential relationships with surface water bodies and groundwater quality. Avoid creating hydrologic conduits between two aquifers.
  • Minimize the planned amount of land to be disturbed as much as possible.
  • Use special construction techniques in areas of steep slopes, erodible soils, and stream crossings.
  • Construct drainage ditches only where necessary. Use appropriate structures at culvert outlets to prevent erosion.
  • Do not alter existing drainage systems, especially in sensitive areas such as erodible soils or steep slopes.
  • Permanent impoundments, including seep discharges, must meet the performance standards outlined in 30CFR816.49(b), including having water quality suitable for the intended post-mining use.
  • Handle earth materials and runoff in a manner that minimizes the formation of acid mine drainage, prevents adding suspended solids to stream flow, and otherwise prevents water pollution. Construct sedimentation structures near the disturbed area to impound surface water runoff and sediment. Maintain as necessary, including discharge of water meeting applicable water quality standards, so as not to exceed designed storage capacity.

General Mitigation Measures

General mitigation practices and principles that could apply to any or all phases of a coal mine project include:

  • Apply erosion controls relative to possible soil erosion from vehicular traffic.
  • Save topsoil removed during mining and decommissioning activities and use to reclaim disturbed areas.
  • Avoid creating excessive slopes during excavation and blasting operations.
  • Closely monitor activities near aquifer recharge areas to reduce potential contamination of the aquifer.
  • Dispose of excess excavation materials in approved areas to control erosion and minimize leaching of hazardous materials.
  • Reclaim or apply protective covering on disturbed soils as quickly as possible.
  • Clean and maintain catch basins, drainage ditches, and culverts regularly.
  • Limit pesticide use to nonpersistent, immobile pesticides.
  • Backfill or recontour strip-mined or contour-mined areas with excess excavation material generated during construction.
  • Obtain borrow material from authorized and permitted sites.