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Spotlight - EPCAMR Coordinates Borehole Monitoring, Mine Pool Awareness Campaign

The Eastern PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation and several other partners recently started a long-term monthly water monitoring program of dozens of abandoned mine drainage discharges and borehole elevation monitoring throughout the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valley at 37 locations within the Northeast region.   Here's a recent description of the project prepared by EPCAMR.

            Along with EPCAMR, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, Lackawanna River Corridor Association,  DEP  Bureau of Water Quality Management-Section 319 Program, and the DEP Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation began monitoring fourteen of the boreholes in the Lackawanna Valley and 23 in the Wyoming Valley.
            For the last 6 months, EPCAMR has been monitoring the elevations of water levels in the boreholes around both of the Valleys that have seen dramatic fluctuations in their levels on a monthly basis over time. 
            EPCAMR has compiled the historical water levels from these boreholes from the DEP BAMR and have graphed the data to show temporal changes in the underground mine pool levels. EPCAMR has also compiled historic and available water quality data from the SRBC, LRCA, and the DEP to monitor the flows of the abandoned mine discharges and the chemical loadings to the rivers and streams. 
            EPCAMR has the ability to graph this data to show the changes in the elevations of the mine pool complexes  to make a scientific-based inference on the differences, separation, or combination of the mine pools that we have termed multi-colliery hydrogeologic units.
            EPCAMR has also digitized historic  mine pool reports from  Stephen H.  Ash and others from the Federal Bureau of Mines (1949-1953) that helped us show the levels of the mine pools and the estimated volumes of water that was pumped down by the Anthracite Mining industry prior to its collapse around the 1970s. 
            Currently, EPCAMR is in the process of developing an Anthracite AMD Remediation Strategy in partnership with  SRBC and other regional partners to prioritize and determine which abandoned mine discharges could potentially be treated, eliminated by mine pool elevation manipulation for storage, utilized for low flow augmentation water, and/or  the combination of discharges for treatment.
            EPCAMR has also digitized underground Anthracite abandoned mine barrier pillars for the Wyoming Valley and is working on digitizing the barrier pillars for the Lackawanna Valley. Archived Federal Office of Surface Mining Folio Maps  has been used to accurately develop these data layers. 
            From the collection and detailed research of this data, EPCAMR is making  determinations on the integrity of the barrier pillars to analyze if solid,  breached, partially breached,  submerged,  or entirely removed by the coal companies as they retreated from the mines as they began to develop other sections.
             It’s our understanding that the Wilkes-Barre Regional District Office of Surface Mining Staff are being reduced because of Federal Budget cuts and/or retirement and the historic mine map collection future that is housed at the Stegmaier Federal Building is undetermined and very valuable to our work.
            There are 4 or 5 boreholes in the Wyoming Valley and 9 in the Lackawanna Valley that have been paved over by municipal road departments. EPCAMR has geographical positions of these boreholes that are very accurate and we are in need of  assistance in reaching their respective municipalities. 
            In Pennsylvania between the late 1970’s drilled most of the boreholes and began early in the 1980’s to monitor the underground mine pools when funding was available.
            EPCAMR is trying to secure additional funding for the installation, repair, and day lighting of these boreholes throughout the Wyoming and Lackawanna Valley to obtain additional crucial data to help us make better determinations on the flows, height of the water elevations, and future advanced warning development for flooding potential throughout our communities.
            Most municipalities are not aware of these boreholes, what they look like, who owns them, and what their value is. EPCAMR would like to change that through our awareness campaign.
            If continued road milling and paving projects continue throughout the area, there is the potential for these boreholes to get paved over and we would like to prevent that and take a proactive approach to making the municipalities and road departments aware of their locations.
            EPCAMR does not have the funding  or equipment to reach the depths of the boreholes with water quality/elevation  monitoring devices such as  data loggers and/or pressure transducer that can monitor continuously over long periods. EPCAMR will make the data publicly available upon completion of our work.
            Visit EPCAMR's website for more information on their activities.


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