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Water Supply Replacement

The Department of Environmental Protection, to the greatest extent possible, has the responsibility to ensure the rapid and adequate replacement of all existing or currently designated water supply sources that suffer adverse hydrologic impacts from surface or underground mining as required under the Commonwealth’s laws and regulations.

The water supply replacement provisions are found in the following sections of the regulations:

Surface Coal (Bituminous) 87.47 and 87.119a

Anthracite Coal 88.27 and 88.107a

Bituminous Underground Coal and Prep Plants 89.145a - 89.153

Coal Refuse Disposal 90.15 and 90.35

Noncoal 77.407 and 77.533

Mine operators are required to identify the probable hydrologic impacts of their proposed mining operations. This includes the identification of water supply sources which may be lost, diminished, degraded, or interrupted as a result of these activities, and to provide a demonstration of the availability of an adequate replacement for such activities.

Descriptions of the procedures and methods can be found at in the following documentation:

  • - A guide to Water Supply Replacement and Subsidence Damage Repair 5600-BK-DEP4054
  • - Water Supply Replacement and Permitting 563-2112-605
  • - Water Supply Replacement and Compliance 562-4000-101
  • - Increased Operation and Maintenance Costs of Replacement Water Supplies 562-4000-102
  • - Surface Coal Mining And Your Water Supply 5600-PA-DEP2563
  • - Water Supply Replacement and Subsidence Damage Repair 5600-FS-DEP2267

Mine Permit Application Process

Prior to the submission of a new or expanded mine permit, mine operators are required to identify and detail the geologic and hydrologic parameters within the proposed permit boundaries, as well as the general area. In the case of water supplies and sources, operators will conduct a pre-mining survey that includes information such as:

  • - Well depth
  • - The water level maintained within the well
  • - The quantity of the water the well can sustainably produce
  • - Various chemical properties of the water produced, including the concentration of certain dissolved minerals such as calcium and iron

During the application process, property owners may be approached by representatives of the mining company asking for permission to perform this testing on their wells or water supplies. Property owners have the right to refuse such access and testing. However, a property owner may forfeit important protections (damage and replacement cost compensation) if a pre-mining survey is denied. Tests like these can help property owners, mine operators, and the Department to determine if or when mining may have impacted a water supply and ensure that property owners are compensated if impacts are confirmed.

If you suspect your water supply has been affected by active mining operations, check the District Mining Office page and contact the DMO for your county to file a complaint that will be investigated by DEP staff.