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Underground Mines Hold A Lot Of Water

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February 5, 2014 — Indiana Public Broadcasting —

 

There could be enough water sitting in Indiana’s abandoned underground mines to fill Lake Monroe—the state’s largest inland lake– three times. That’s according to a new report from the Indiana Geological Survey. That water could be a valuable resource for the state. But as Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Gretchen Frazee reports, the water’s quality could prove to be a major hurdle.

172 billion gallons—that’s how much water researchers estimate is being held in the state’s underground mines.

Denver Harper is a retired coal geologist at the Indiana Geological Survey whose data was used in the report. He says most of the mines are in the southwestern part of the state and the water in them isn’t like most of the state’s water that’s buried in porous rocks and hard to extract.

Within these underground mines, you actually do have free flowing pools of water, so you could actually withdraw quite a bit of water within a short period.”

But researchers would also have to make sure there’s a way to replenish the water pools. And it’s not clear whether the water would be safe enough to drink.

Jack Wittman is a hydrogeologist at the geosciences and engineering consulting firm INTERA and is putting together a comprehensive report of the state’s water resources for the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce.

He says the water in the mines likely isn’t clean enough for everyday use.

There is water in these mines and it could be used for industrial purposes or some other purpose but as a direct groundwater source, It’s probably not a supply for drinking water purposes.”

Companies could clean the water, but Wittman says it wouldn’t be economically viable while there are other water resources across the state that haven’t been used.

 

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