Does coal mining in West Virginia produce or consume water? : a net water balance of seven coal mines in Logan County, West Virginia, an aquifer assessment, and the policies determining water quantities

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Smith, Faith Martinez

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This work evaluates whether coal mining in Logan County, West Virginia is a net consumer or producer of water at seven mines in Logan County, West Virginia. Water is used at each step in the coal mining process, making it important to understand the quantity of water that might be consumed. Geologic conditions and production procedures exist such that water might be produced from coal mining. Through steps such as dewatering mines and using water for on-site dust control, water is discharged from aquifers, which adds to the local waterways and affects the water table. The total discharge for each mine was quantified from 2014 discharge permits, which were curated from fillings with regulatory agencies. Water withdrawal values were provided by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. This is a quantitative inventory of water outflows or a net water balance. Net balance refers to the total diference between water discharged and withdrawn. This analysis suggests that the seven mines analyzed for this work discharge significantly more water than they withdraw from the surrounding watersheds. Thus, on balance, these mines are net producers of water. However, the water quality of those discharges are typically significantly different. The volume of discharge from these mines can be comparable to the water usage of many cities in the United States.


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