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, which 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 water-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 the county in is included
in this report.
to "Groundwater Resources in Kentucky"