Governor Bob McDonnell today announced $1.69 million to fund projects that reduce nonpoint source pollution from acid mine drainage from pre-federal act (1977) coal mining in the Powell River watershed of southwestern Virginia. The money is a state and federal mix coming from mine-related and nonpoint source-related funds.
"This money will help fund specific projects that reduce the leading source of water quality problems -- nonpoint source or runoff pollution -- from historic coal mining activities," said Governor McDonnell. "This funding is the last piece of the puzzle in a project restoring water quality in the Powell River watershed."
State and federal funds administered through the Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy (DMME) are being used to match State Water Quality Improvement Act and federal Clean Water Act funds. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) administers these nonpoint source monies.
These projects are part of an ongoing effort to remediate damage from acid mine drainage (AMD) from abandoned coal mining. This includes erosion control and stream bank stabilization needed because of damage caused by AMD seeps. The proposed projects will help remedy AMD seeps in the Ely and Puckett Creek watersheds, part of the Powell River, home to many endangered or threatened aquatic species. They will also resolve all the AMD issues related to the Straight Creek total maximum daily load, or TMDL, implementation plan.
Virginia receives funding to reclaim abandoned mine lands through a federal reclamation fee on tonnage mined, which is administered in Virginia by DMME. However funding for acid mine drainage from historic mine sites is limited by a Congressional mandate to expend the reclamation funds on abandoned mine land features that impact human health and safety; making the nonpoint sources funds critical to this project.
"Through partnerships with local, state and federal agencies, DMME has successfully treated several of the worst discharges of acid mine drainage," said DMME Director Conrad T. Spangler, III. "Continuing the AMD abatement is a goal of DMME through our participation in the Clinch Powell Clean Rivers Initiative." DMME oversees coal, non-fuel mineral mining and natural gas and oil well operations in Virginia and will provide technical oversight on the funded projects.
"Whether from mining sites, farm fields, construction sites, parking lots or the family yard, nonpoint source, or runoff pollution, is a problem statewide," said DCR Director David Johnson. "These funds targeted to specific mining runoff projects are another tool we use to help improve all of Virginia's waters."
DCR is the state's lead agency in reducing stormwater and runoff pollution.