Hydrologic-Based Ecological Risk Assessment of Urban, Agriculture, and Coal Mining Impacts Upon Aquatic Habitat, Toxicity, and Biodiversity
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A better understanding of acid mine drainage (AMD) was demonstrated linking land use/cover, coal bed, sediment, and water column chemistry to aquatic ecotoxicity through examination of the origin and fate of sulfate, magnesium, iron, manganese, and zinc. Key findings in risk assessment of Leading Creek indicated that (1) abandoned near-surface underground mine lands (AUML) were associated with >90% of untreated AMD reaching Leading Creek; (2) degradation to aquatic ecology was primarily associated with water quality degradation due to AMD, not with sediment quality degradation; (3) modest habitat destruction, especially sedimentation effects, were observed for ASML>3%, and urbanization>5% in small subsheds; (4) unique chemical signatures differentiated mining techniques instream; and (5) in situ Corbicula fluminea growth rates were dependent upon drainage area.
Sporadic signs of agricultural and urban impacts were indicated from acute toxicity with Ceriodaphnia dubia and chronic in situ toxicity testing with C. fluminea. Both the ecotoxicological tests were shown to be reliable indicators of AMD impact from AUML, on watershed and subwatershed scales. AMD was strongly associated with depressed biodiversity, low pH, and elevated zinc. Ecotoxicity monitoring supported interconnections found between sediment and water chemistry, land use/cover, and biodiversity.
- Doctoral Dissertations