Conservative estimates indicate that water from abandoned underground
coal mines could provide water for a population of millions. Generalized
areas of underground mining have been compiled for several important
coal beds as part of the U.S.
Geological Survey's National Coal Assessment Program. Two of the
six seams that have been mapped in eastern Kentucky represent 160 billion
gallons of potential water storage. Initial studies of abandoned underground
coal mines in Johnson, Martin, Knott, and Letcher Counties show that
there are favorable sites, but they need to be proved.
Although preliminary investigations have apparently confirmed the value
of this resource at several locations, the feasibility of using abandoned
underground coal mines as municipal water supplies throughout Appalachia
needs further study. Underground mines that have potential for development
as water supplies, and are also near population centers with the greatest
water demands, must be identified. The following questions need to be
addressed for the region:
- Are underground mines a viable source for major water supplies?
- What quality problems may inhibit use of mine water (such as poor
quality or abrupt changes in quality)?
- What are the challenging issues for existing water supplies that
currently use mine water?
- What difficulties might inhibit an accurate determination of water-supply
conditions in underground mines?
- Can hydrogeologic data and mine information obtained from existing
mines be extrapolated to untested sites?
- What impacts will future land uses, including mining, have on the
showing mined-out areas of selected seams in Harlan County is included
in this report.
to "Groundwater Resources in Kentucky"