Acid Mine Drainage Pollution in the West Branch Schuylkill and Upper Schuylkill River, Schuylkill County Pennsylvania: A Case Study and Recommendations for the Future
Physical Sciences and Mathematics
Acid mine drainage (AMD) is a huge environmental problem in Luzerne and Schuylkill Counties due to the mining of anthracite coal in the region. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, through water quality data, has developed a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for all streams and rivers in the state. The West Branch Schuylkill River and the Upper Schuylkill River are two areas where AMD has had an effect on the water quality. For this study, I am using the data from PADEP to determine if the remediation actions have had an effect on the West Branch Schuylkill River and Upper Schuylkill River, or if it is too soon to tell. For both of these streams, data were collected by PADEP from 1996 through 2003; the data consist of the pH of the water, the concentration of iron, aluminum, and manganese expressed in milligrams per liter (mg/L), and the percent reduction needed to maintain good water quality standards. Through tables and graphs, the most affected sites along the rivers are made known, and these are the sites that are high priority for remediation. Recommendations are made for the sites along the rivers that are a high priority for remediation, mainly the mine discharges. If the sources of pollution are controlled, then future generations will not have to deal with the effects of AMD on the rivers and their environments.