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Economic Impacts of Surface Mining on Household Drinking Water Supplies
Hawes, B., C. Patterson, B. Stout, AND A. Jones. Economic Impacts of Surface Mining on Household Drinking Water Supplies. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-14/152, 2014.
When wastes from mining operations are improperly managed, potable drinking water supplies can become contaminated and be harmful to residents living in communities close to surface mines. Environmental issues may impact human health and property resulting in unexpected economic costs. These economic burdens may be compounded when the only water available to residents is contaminated by active or inactive mining operations.
This report provides information on the economic and social impacts of contaminated surface and ground water supplies on residents and households near surface mining operations. The focus is on coal slurry contamination of water supplies in Mingo County, West Virginia, and describes community health problems and costs over time. According to public records, 1.4 billion gallons of toxic slurry were pumped into underground mine shafts contaminating streams and well water of 769 residents in Rawl, Lick Creek, Merrimac and Sprigg, WV, in the mid-1980s. Additional information on household water treatment and alternative sources of drinking water is provided to help communities solve drinking water contamination problems near mining operations.