November 6, 1996
Summary of Proposed Revisions
25 PA Code, Chapters 87 and 88
Water Supply Protection/Replacement
(Coal Surface Mining)
These proposed revisions are intended to reflect various provisions of the Pennsylvania Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), as amended by Act 173 of 1992 and Act 43 of 1996.
Act 173 created a rebuttable presumption that a surface mine operator is responsible for diminution or degradation of water supplies within 1,000 feet (304.8 meters) of the surface mine permit area. This applies to surface mining activities with permits issued on or after February 16, 1993. Act 43 revised that presumption to apply within 1,000 feet (304.8 meters) of bonded/affected area, overburden removal/storage area, and support area (except for haul and access roads). This rebuttable presumption does not apply to persons engaged in government-financed reclamation contracts; however, such persons are required to replace water supplies impacted by their reclamation activities.
Provisions are also being added to these regulations to reflect the results of various court decisions pertaining to a surface mine operators obligation to replace an affected water supply with an alternate source which is adequate in quantity and quality for the purposes served by the supply. These revisions also address the issue of monetary compensation to the property owner for increased costs associated with a replacement water supply.
Other revisions are being made to reflect provisions of Act 173 relative to alternative revegetation standards for areas previously disturbed by surface mining and which are being remined and reclaimed.