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 Post subject: Old mine eyed for 1.3B gal. of water
PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:39 am 
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Old mine eyed for 1.3B gal. of water

Utility envisions storage facility under Mine Hill

BY MICHAEL DAIGLE
DAILY RECORD
Sunday, November 11, 2007

MORRIS TWP. -- A plan to store water in the abandoned Scrub Oaks iron mine under Mine Hill could provide the Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority the additional 3 million gallons per day it will need in the next 15 years.

Mark A. Tompeck, a senior vice president with consulting engineers Hatch Mott McDonald, told the utilities board last week that water storage at Scrub Oaks could "balance" inter-basin transfers and meet state rules barring the transfer of water from one river basin to another.

The Morris utilities authority provides water for eight towns in central and western Morris County, and two commercial water systems in the Rockaway River basin, part of the larger Passaic River basin. The utilities' wells that produce 186 million gallons of water a year are in Randolph and Flanders in the Raritan River basin, and the state Department of Environmental Protect-ion generally does not allow inter-basin transfers, Tompeck said.

He said that inter-basin transfer issue will only get worse in the future if no action is taken. He said currently 53 percent of the utility's water is consumed in the Passaic Basin, a figure that will increase to 62 percent.

The utilities board received a detailed report on the mine project Thursday. To develop the storage facility could cost $34 million for piping, treatment facilities and development of the mine site, Tompeck said. The project to develop a storage facility that could hold as much as 1.3 billion gallons of water in deep mine shafts could take as long as 10 years to complete.

Two high hurdles

"We need to get DEP involved," said board chairman Herman Nadel. "They already gave us $500,000 for the study. If DEP was a partner, we might not have allocation permit problems." The state issues the permits that authorize drawing added water for distribution.

Tompack said the next step is to get DEP to approve a conceptual plan, but that state environmental department will really want to see an allocation permit, which has not yet been prepared. Another issue is getting the approval of the Highlands Council, which is drawing up a master plan for the region. Preliminary talks with that body have been useful, he said.

Utilities authority executive director Glenn Schweizer said that there will be few if any new water sources in the future. DEP has essentially stopped permitting additional ground water allocations, so tapping from surface water will be all that is left, he said.

The problem for the Morris utility, he said, is that neighboring water suppliers like Jersey City and Newark, both of which own reservoirs in Morris County, do not have enough reserve capacity to sell water to the Morris system, and buying water from other sources will be more expensive than developing the mine-storage plan.

"What other sources are available?" Schweizer asked.

Engineering details

Tompack's report outlined the physical nature of the old mine, how water could be captured from the Rockaway River and Lake Hopatcong and the how the facilities needed to capture, treat and transport the water could be built.

The general plan is to draw water from the Rockaway River and Lake Hopatcong during high water times and store it in the mine. Water could only be drawn when water in the Jersey City Reservoir, which is fed by the Rockaway, is flowing over the Boonton dam, or when Lake Hopatcong overflows its dam into the Musconetcong River.

"This is water that is now flowing into the ocean," said MUA engineer John Scarmozza.

The plan calls for the development of three collector wells along West Dewey Avenue and the Rockaway River, he said. These wells would be constructed along the river bank and draw water from the sandy soils below the river.

Tompack said that models developed by New Jersey Institute of Technology indicated that the agency could draw about 3 million gallons of water daily during a drought, based on the drought of record in the 1960s, which lasted about 600 days.

An existing pipeline from Lake Hopatcong to the Rockaway River in Jefferson could be used to draw water from that source, he said, but a new pumping station would have to be constructed at an estimated cost of $3 million.

A treatment facility and pumping station to send the water uphill from the Rockaway to the mine is estimated to cost $12.7 million. Water quality issues are the presence of iron and manganese in the water in the mine, he said.

Scarmozza said once on line, the mine storage facility could be used at certain times to allow the utility to draw less water from its Flanders and Randolph well fields, substituting mine water.

Michael Daigle can be reached at (973) 267-7947 or at mdaigle@gannett.com


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:50 am 
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It looks like there is a serious need for both a place to store excess water during the time of the year that there is a lot of rainfall and a place to retrieve that water in addition to the water already present in the mine. While this does sound like a very expensive project, this does sound like a way to get around the problems of finding new supplies of water for the state. The ability of this mine to store 1.3 billion gallons of water sounds substantial, but I wonder if any of that includes the water already in there.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2007 12:54 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 2:34 pm
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Location: Within 60 Miles of the Northern Anthracite Field
in coal mines full of water, the deeper you go the acidity of the water rises. is there a concern with minerals or any type of acidity in hard rock mines storing water?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2007 2:35 am 
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Location: Above the Sterling Hill Mine
I honestly don't know the entire results of the testing which took place there. From my understanding they tested the water at various depths (dropping testing equiptment down the inclined shaft), and only found clean water. I would be interested in knowing exactly what the results were, but I wouldn't expect it to be bad. Does anyone else have any information on this?

Miner Greg


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