Year of Publication

2012

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture; Engineering

Department

Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Carmen T. Agouridis

Abstract

The surface mining method of mountaintop removal has been shown to adversely affect the water quality and hydrologic characteristics of downstream regions. Based on recent scientific literature, the U.S. EPA issued guidance on the specific conductivity (EC25ºC) of waters discharged from mined lands in the Appalachian Coal Belt Region stating that these waters should have an EC25ºC less than 300-500 μS cm-1. Hence, accurately measuring EC25ºC levels of mine discharged waters has significant implications. Furthermore, the development of reclamation techniques that positively impact the hydrological and water quality aspects of valley fill (VF) discharge is needed. To tackle these questions, a two-part study was conducted. First, a detailed study comparing sensor performance under controlled and field conditions was performed. Second, the hydrologic parameters (storm flow only) of a stream restoration project constructed atop a retrofitted valley fill were compared to a headwater stream with no mining as well as one influenced by mining with no restoration. Results indicated that significant differences were noted between four conductivity sensors with errors positively correlated with increases in EC25ºC. For storm events, the restored stream section atop the VF is performing similar to the unminded, forested watershed for some hydrologic parameters.

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