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Evaluating Stormwater Impacts and the Firstflush Phenomenon on Selenium Concentrations in a Surface Coal Mine Discharge in West Virginia

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Selenium in surface water discharges is a concern of the Appalachian surface coal mining industry. Many National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)-permitted outlets in West Virginia must meet stringent water-quality-based effluent limits (WQBELs) for total recoverable selenium: 4.70 micrograms per liter (μg/L) monthly average and 8.20 μg/L daily maximum. This study included a site-specific sampling plan and rigorous field procedures for discrete sampling to clearly show the dilution effect of stormwater on selenium concentrations in reclaimed surface coal mine discharge. The study also showed that the first-flush magnitude depends on site-specific conditions; precipitation volume, intensity, and duration; and pollutant type. Applying the dilution effect and the first-flush phenomenon will help companies develop stormwater management alternatives to achieve consistent compliance with selenium effluent limits. Further understanding and knowledge gained from case studies of stormwater impacts and characterizing selenium at surface coal mine sites will continue to increase over time.
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Keywords: Coal Mine; Dilution; First Flush; Selenium; Stormwater

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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