Water quality pollution from abandoned mines is becoming an issue of growing awareness and concern. This concern is exacerbated by the fact that there are countless numbers of inoperative facilities with serious environmental, safety, and health problems. Abandoned tailings piles eroding heavy metals and sediment into watercourses, flooded tunnels and open pits filled with toxic water, unmarked open shafts and adits, and rotting timbers are some of the hazards facing unsuspecting humans and wildlife.
The purpose of this paper is to identify and characterize water quality sources at abandoned hardrock mine sites and best management practices (BMPs) used to control polluted runoff. There is a need to clearly define the best approach for controlling nonpoint pollution sources at abandoned mines. These are issues that could be addressed in reauthorization of the Clean Water Act.