WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH GRANT PROPOSAL
Project ID: 2002MT4B
Title: Recharge Assessment of the Anaconda Mine near Belt, Montana
Project Type: Research
Focus Categories: Groundwater, Geochemical Processes, Toxic Substances
Keywords: Acid Mine Drainage, Ground-Water Recharge, Age Dating, Tritium, CFC
Start Date: 03/01/2002
End Date: 02/28/2004
Federal Funds: $11,519
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $23,039
Congressional District: At-Large
Jon C. Reiten
Montana Tech of The University of Montana
Decades of underground coal mining have resulted in acid mine drainage (AMD), which is contaminating ground-water and surface-water resources at Belt. Although mining ended about 50 years ago, water with a pH of 2.94 is still issuing from mine workings adjacent to and near town. The acid mine drainage is lowering the pH of Belt Creek and increasing trace metals concentration in the stream. The creek cannot support fish below Belt and is discharging acidic, metal-laden water to the Missouri River. By age dating ground water the recharge source entering the mine may be determined.
The overall goal is to restore the water quality of Belt Creek by reducing non-point pollution, improve stream habitat, restore native fish populations, and improve ground-water quality of the alluvial aquifer by improving the quality of the recharge. The goal of this project is to define the hydrogeologic regime in the vicinity of Belt so that recharge to old mine workings, the source of acid mine drainage, can be delineated with a reasonable level of certainty. Age dating the water by testing for tritium and chlorofluorocarbons will provide useful information for determining the source of recharge to abandoned mine workings. With this knowledge, best-management practices can be developed to reduce generation of acidic discharges. Hydrogeologic data and water-quality information will be used to calculate changes in recharge rates, ground-water flow rates, and acid mine drainage discharges under various scenarios and combinations of cropping, dewatering, or other techniques that might be found to be appropriate.