Loss of channel conveyance from deposition of sediment from abandoned surface mines in the West Branch Shade River basin has resulted in frequent flooding. In addition, water quality in the West Branch Shade River and some of its tributaries is typical of streams affected by acid mine drainage. About 938 acres were surfaced mined and abandoned in West Branch Shade River basin. By the end of 1984, about 450 acres were reclaimed. The purpose of this study was to measure the effects of abandoned surface mines and their reclamation on suspended-sediment load, channel cross-section profile, and water quality of West Branch Shade River.
Sediment data were collected from June 1983 through September 1985. Daily suspended-sediment samples were collected and continuous streamflow data were recorded at two locations in West Branch Shade River basin and one location in the unmined, East Branch Shade River basin. Water-quality samples were collected three times per year, from June 1983 through July 1986, at four locations in the West Branch Shade River basin and at one location in East Branch Shade River basin and at one location in East Branch Shade River basin. Stream-channel cross sections were surveyed at least twice per year at 10 locations.
During the period of study, annual mean suspended-sediment concentration was unchanged for the unmined, East Branch Shade River basin; 0.28 ton per acre-foot of runoff in 1984 and 1985 water years. Annual suspended-sediment concentration, in tons per acre foot, in West Branch Shade River near Harrisonville, from 8.6 in 1984 water year to 0.15 in 1985 water year. In West Branch Shade River near Burlingham, where 48 percent of the abandoned mines were reclaimed by the end of 1984, annual mean suspended-sediment concentration was unchanged (0.5 ton per acre-foot of runoff) in 1984 and 1985 water years and was twice that of the unmined basin.
Channel profiles, surveyed at each of the 10 cross sections, indicated scouring at two locations and filling at one location. West Branch Shade River near Harrisonville was scouring, whereas West Branch Shade River near Burlingham was filling. Although the source of sediment in the headwaters had been greatly reduced with reclamation, the sediments previously deposited and stored in the channel of West Branch Shade River most likely will continue to provide a suspended-sediment supply and contribute to channel filling farther downstream. In addition, part of West Branch Shade River basin is still largely unreclaimed and continues as a suspended-sediment source.
On the basis of successive cross-section profiles, the down-stream-most cross section surveyed in Kingsbury Creek, a tributary to West Branch Shade River, also appeared to be scouring. The cause of the scouring is unknown, as no reclamation activities have occurred in that part of the basin.
The quality of West Shade River was characteristic of streams draining abandoned or improperly reclaimed surface mines in southeastern Ohio. Median alkalinity was less than 25 mg/L (milligrams per liter) as CaCO3 at the three mined sites. Median sulfate concentration was 44 mg/L at the unmined site compared to 128 mg/L at the mined sites. Median manganese concentration was 10 times higher at the mined sites than the unmined sites. Both sulfate and manganese are indicators of the presence of acid mine drainage.
The greatest change in water quality during the study period was observed in West Branch Shade River near Harrisonville, above which all abandoned mine lands were reclaimed. The pH at that site increased to neutral by the end of the study. In addition, alkalinity concentration increased, and acidity concentration decreased. As has been observed in previous studies of abandoned surface mines that have been reclaimed, manganese and sulfate concentrations did not change following reclamation. No change in water quality was observed at the two downstream sites during the period of study. However, th
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USGS Numbered Series
Sedimentation and water quality in the West Branch Shade River basin, Ohio, 1983-85