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Acid Mine Drainage (AMD)(1) Set-Aside Program

The AMD abatement and treatment program (AMD Set-Aside Program) is authorized in Section 402(g)(6) of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, as amended (SMCRA). It was first authorized in 1990. The 2006 SMCRA amendments increased the funding limits and removed a previous requirement for the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) to approve an AMD plan.

Up to thirty percent (30%) of the portion of the annual AML Grant comprised of State Share Funds authorized by SMCRA section 402(g)(1) and Historic Coal Funds authorized in SMCRA section 402(g)(5) can be deposited into PA's Acid Mine Drainage Abatement and Treatment Fund (AMD Set-Aside Account). Additional information and background on PA's AMD Program is summarized in the History of PA DEP AMD Set Aside Program (PDF).

AMD Set-Aside funds, together with all interest earned, can only be expended for the abatement of the causes and treatment of the effects of AMD in a comprehensive manner within a Qualified Hydrologic Unit (QHU) (formerly Hydrologic Unit Plan (HUP)) affected by coal mining practices.

A Qualified Hydrologic Unit means a hydrologic unit which meets the following requirements:

  1. Water quality has been significantly affected by acid mine drainage from coal mining practices in a manner that adversely impacts biological resources.
  2. The unit contains lands and waters that meet both the following requirements.
    1. Eligible under section 404 of SMCRA, and include any of the coal priorities described in section 403(a).
    2. The subject of expenditure from the forfeiture of a bond under section 509 or from other State sources to abate and treat acid mine drainage.

The Qualified Hydrologic Units (QHU) and Hydrologic Unit Plans (HUP) in PA that have been identified/approved to date are depicted on PA's Hydrologic Unit Map (PDF).

All funds AML Grant Funds deposited in the AMD Set-Aside Account, plus interest earned, are considered to be state funds.

Funds in the AMD Set-Aside Account can be used to meet another Federal grant program's matching requirement as long as the goals of the other program are comparable to the AMD Set-Aside Program.

Acid Mine Drainage Set-Aside Program Implementation Guidelines

The Acid Mine Drainage Set-Aside Program Implementation Guidelines (PDF) establish uniform procedures to ensure the AMD Set Aside Program is implemented in a scientifically sound and cost effective manner in order to maximize the stream miles restored with the funds available. The document, initially drafted in 2009, was re-evaluated and revised, and published as final in the Pennsylvania Bulletin (PAB) on September 17, 2016. A Comment and Response Document (PDF) related to the development of the Technical Guidance is also available.

AMD Treatment Information and Resources

The Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (BAMR) operates and maintains many large active mine drainage treatment plants and numerous passive treatment systems which are improving or restoring water quality in the receiving streams on which they are located. Currently, BAMR operates eight (8) treatment plants and has another eight (8) under development, design or construction. Additionally, BAMR provides O&M directly for 46 passive mine drainage treatment systems located across the Commonwealth. All of these mine drainage treatment facilities are being operated and maintained with AMD Set-Aside funding, mine drainage treatment trusts, or other funding earmarked for AMD treatment. The following resources will provide more information about BAMR's AMD treatment facilities: - Datashed is a collaborative effort of Stream Restoration Incorporated, PA DEP, and others to provide the tools needed to actively monitor and maintain AMD treatment systems.

AMDTreat - A software program from OSMRE's Technical Innovation and Professional Services (TIPS) suite of software, AMDTreat (Pronounced: am'-D-treat or A-M-D-treat.) is a computer application for estimating abatement costs for pollutional mine drainage.

OSMRE's Acid Drainage Technology Initiative (ADTI) website - ADTI was formed as a partnership of technical experts from industry, state and federal agencies and academia who have joined together to combat the pervasive problem of AMD.

(1) AMD can be either net acidic or net alkaline water laden with heavy metals such as iron, aluminum, manganese and others as well as sulfates. AMD originates through the oxidation of sulfide minerals (primarily Pyrite, FeS2). These sulfide minerals, while stable in their undisturbed environment, can be encountered during mining or other earth disturbance activities. Once exposed to oxidizing conditions, the sulfide minerals readily oxidize and quickly dissolve in surface and groundwater resulting in AMD pollution.