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Status of Pennsylvania’s AMD Set-Aside Program. By Pam Milavec Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) 2006 Reauthorization. New Set-Aside Statutory Language SMCRA Section 402(g)(6).

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status of pennsylvania s amd set aside program
Status of Pennsylvania’s AMD Set-Aside Program

By Pam Milavec

Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation

new set aside statutory language smcra section 402 g 6
New Set-Aside Statutory LanguageSMCRA Section 402(g)(6)

(A) … up to 30 percent of the total of the grants …for the abatement of the causes and the treatment of the effects of acid mine drainage in a comprehensive manner within qualified hydrologic units affected by coal mining practices.

(B) In this paragraph, the term “qualified hydrologic unit” means a hydrologic unit—

(i) in which the water quality has been significantly affected by acid mine drainage from coal mining practices in a manner that adversely impacts biological resources;and

(ii)(I) contains land and water that are eligible

(II) contains land and water that are the subject of expenditures by the State from the forfeiture of bonds required under section 509 or from other State sources to abate and treat abandoned mine drainage.

up to 30 set aside
Up to 30% Set-Aside
  • Must be balanced with P1 and 2, health and safety projects
  • At current estimates, Pennsylvania could potentially focus $300-$400 million of Title IV funds toward AMD problems over the next 15 years
  • However, due to the magnitude of the problem, and O&M needs, many AMD problems will not be addressed through the AML Program during this time
pennsylvania s approach solicit public input on reauthorization of smcra
Pennsylvania’s Approach - Solicit Public Input on Reauthorization of SMCRA
  • The DEP held 10 public town hall meetings across the coal areas of PA in order to receive public input on the AML program
  • The Department then conducted focus group meetings as a second part of its public outreach efforts for the purpose of examining selected issues important to the efficient operation of PA’s AML Program
results of public input on reauthorization of title iv
Results of Public Input on Reauthorization of Title IV
  • About 340 people attended the ten town hall meetings, generating over 800 pages of transcripts
  • Majority of Commenters:
  • Take a full 30% set-aside
  • Address OMR funding for passive treatment systems with set-aside funding
pa dep response
PA DEP Response
  • Coment and Response Document on-line
  • Development of a draft Set-Aside issue paper, also on-line

Both can be found at:

  • DEP Programs (A-Z):Abandoned Mine(s)/Abandoned Mine Reclamation
primary points of issue paper
Primary Points of Issue Paper
  • PA shall take the maximum 30% set-aside at the earliest possible time that provides a balance with land reclamation responsibilities
  • Decision-making will be defined, transparent and open for public comment
  • Money from the fund shall be made available for operation, maintenance and replacement of AMD treatment systems constructed with Commonwealth funding
  • Money will be made available for grants, thru the existing Grant Center and thru sole-sourcing, when it is an effective alternative to state contracting

Mine Drainage Set-Aside Workgroup

In November 2007, the Department, in cooperation with the Federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM), established a workgroup to develop set-aside implementation guidelines for OSM Title IV funded AMD projects


Main objective of the Workgroup

To develop Set Aside program guidelines that ensure the efficient and effective expenditure of funds that achieve measurable and comprehensive restoration of watersheds impacted by abandoned coal mine drainage in accordance with the requirements of SMCRA

passive mine drainage treatment in pa
Passive Mine Drainage Treatment in PA
  • Between 1990 and 2008, at least 280publicly funded passive mine drainage treatment projects have been constructed in Pennsylvania
    • The average cost of each project was just over $300,000
    • The total capital cost of these projects exceeds $85 million
many of these passive treatment systems are being evaluated
Many of these passive treatment systems are being evaluated:
  • To evaluate system ‘success’
  • To identify operational problems
  • To better define what technology works and/or what may be problematic – needed for guidelines
  • A database is being established with detailed info on each system
results of analysis
Results of Analysis:
  • Passive treatment systems used for net alkaline discharges were very often highly successful
  • Passive Treatment systems used for weakly to moderately acidic discharges were also successful, however, some have operational or maintenance problems
  • Passive treatment systems used for strongly acidic discharges, particularly those with elevated levels of metals, have been less successful and many have operational or maintenance problems

This info will be used to develop a “risk matrix” in the program guidelines

timetable for completion of implementation guidelines
Timetable for Completion of Implementation Guidelines
  • First Draft presented at Focus Group meeting on June 10, 2008
  • Accepted Comments thru July
  • Have made significant revisions
  • Will have final draft to public in May, 2009
  • Will present final guidelines at PA’s AMR conference July 13 2009, Pitt-Johnstown
revisions to guidelines since first draft
Revisions to Guidelines since First Draft
  • Scoring will have a watershed approach vs. individual project approach
  • Have developed overarching goals
  • Added a preliminary benefit:cost analysis to be completed before scoring the watershed
  • Added scoring criteria for the viability of local watershed group
draft overarching goals
DRAFT: Overarching Goals

Lower Tier - The goal for the stream targeted is biological restoration including, where applicable, a recreational fishery. The following in-stream contaminant concentrations must be met during normal stream flow conditions: pH>6, net alkaline (unless in a naturally acidic headwater stream), total Fe < 1.5, total Al < 0.5 and TDS < 1,500. Fish and macro surveys will be conducted to evaluate success.

draft overarching goals20
DRAFT: Overarching Goals

Upper Tier – The goal for the stream targeted is to delist from the Impaired Waters List. The following instream contaminant levels must be met, with infrequent, minor exceedences that don’t adversely impact aquatic life: pH >6, net alkaline, (unless in a naturally acidic headwater stream), total Fe < 1.5, total Al < 0.5 and TDS < 1,500. Macroinvertebrate surveys needed to determine that the stream meets Department delisting criteria (full attainment).

process of developing new qualified hydrologic units
Process of developing new Qualified Hydrologic Units
  • Currently, there are 26 approved Hydrologic Unit Plans (HUPs)
  • New Hydrologic Units must be determined to be qualifying under SMCRA before being scored
  • Existing restoration plans will be evaluated to determine b:c, if >1, watershed will be scored
  • Watersheds scoring a high or exceptional worth will be developed in to QHUs.
prioritization of set aside work
Prioritization of Set-Aside Work
  • Evaluate existing HUPs, determine if goals are met or if additional work is needed and whether this is still a priority of Dept.
  • Develop QHUs with measurable goals where Dept. has already committed to projects (ex. SRBC plants)
  • Develop QHUs in high/exceptional worth watersheds where treatment systems are already constructed
  • Develop QHUs in new watersheds where minimal work has been completed
wrap up
  • Ongoing evaluation of existing systems – will be used for a risk matrix in guidelines
  • Guidelines in place by July, 2009
  • Completion of existing HUP evaluations in 2009
  • Development of first QHUs in 2009
  • Funding increases starting in 2010 will allow for consideration of additional watersheds for QHUs as staff time and funding allow