Acid Mine Drainage Abatement Section

Acid Mine Drainage Abatement Section

Acid Mine Drainage Remediation Efforts in Western Maryland

The Acid Mine Drainage Abatement Section (AMDS) focuses on the remediation of acid mine drainage problems in Western Maryland. The goals of AMDS are to protect the waters of Western Maryland from the impacts of acid mine drainage (AMD) from abandoned mines, develop cooperative partnerships with industry, government agencies, and citizen groups, and utilize best management technologies for AMD abatement and treatment. Almost 10 million dollars (Maryland AMD Stream Improvement Efforts from 1992-2013) has been directly or indirectly obtained from federal state, and private sources to assess and address the specific problem of acid mine drainage problems throughout Western Maryland.

 

Acid Mine Drainage in Stream, Garrett County, MD

Acid Mine Drainage and Mining

Coal mining began in Maryland early in the 19th century and played an important role in the national production of coal during two World Wars. Today, the coal mining industry continues to be a major factor in the economy of Western Maryland. While providing significant economic benefits to Western Maryland for over a century, coal mining has also caused extensive environmental damage before adequate laws, regulations and mining practices were adopted to protect the environment. The single most significant water quality impact in Western Maryland is unabated AMD from historic coal mines before adequate regulations (SMCRA) were enacted and have impaired many miles of streams and rivers. Pre-1977 coal mining increased the amounts of acid, sediment, sulfates, iron, manganese, and hardness in streams and rivers, substantially altering water quality.

Maryland began mitigating the impacts of AMD on the streams and rivers in the coal region of Allegany and Garrett Counties in the mid-1980's. Since then, AMDS has addressed AMD problems with various treatment technologies at randomly selected sites in Allegany and Garrett Counties. Multiple wetland and lime doser systems, 53 systems total (Maryland AMD Systems), operate in the watersheds of the Upper North Branch of the Potomac River, Georges Creek, Casselman River, and Cherry Creek (a tributary to Deep Creek Lake).​