Monitoring Surface and Groundwater
The HPS families care deeply about protecting the surface water and groundwater quality and quantity at the mine site, as this land has been theirs for generations and will be for years to come. To achieve this end, HPS has completed extensive studies of existing water quality conditions. This data has been used to establish a baseline, model potential impacts, guide appropriate design, and establish standards for reclamation.
HPS’s modeling indicates that no adverse impacts will occur to surface and groundwater quality and quantity, and that the reclamation plan will restore and improve the land’s original character. To be certain that the design elements are functioning as intended, HPS has developed multi-faceted qualitative and quantitative monitoring plans that will ensure the project is being implemented as proposed.
The surface water plan calls for sampling and monitoring streams that will be impacted and reconstructed as well as those that will be avoided. Stage, flow, and quality of surface waters, including the New River and its tributaries, will be tracked as part of this plan. HPS has identified 24 surface water monitoring locations, which were discussed with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and selected based on proximity to points of inflow and outflow on the project boundary, as well as areas of tributary confluence. Surface waters will be analyzed for 31 different parameters, including pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, total suspended solids, and various minerals and metals. Baseline values for each of these criteria have already been established, and quarterly monitoring will begin after permit issuance and continue during mining in avoided streams, as well as during and after construction of the reclaimed streams.
Additionally, surface water gauging stations will measure water level and flow continuously in avoided streams throughout mining. Stream water levels and flows will be tracked by continuous stage level recorders until the end of the project. HPS will also collect data from an existing rainfall gauge with a continuous data logger.
The ground water monitoring plan during operations and reclamation includes water quality sampling and water level monitoring. In January of 2016, the HPS team installed 33 groundwater monitoring wells across the project area and began periodically measuring groundwater elevations. Prior to and during mine operations, on a semi-annual basis, groundwater from each well will be collected and analyzed for 26 different parameters, including pH, temperature, turbidity, alkalinity, and various minerals and metals. As the project progresses, additional wells will be installed between the active mining operation, the New River, and all wetland areas to ensure that dewatering activities do not affect adjacent water bodies/wetlands.
Monitoring of avoided streams and wetlands will be conducted and compared to baseline values to confirm adjacent mining and reclamation activities are not causing adverse water quality impacts. Wetland water levels and average water depths will be measured by gauges, piezometers, and visual inspections on a weekly basis until at least 2 years after reclamation contouring is complete, and then monthly until the reclaimed areas are released, i.e., considered successful by the agencies. Maintaining groundwater levels within the normal range of existing conditions, coupled with active monitoring, will ensure the normal ranges of hydroperiods of the avoided wetlands and baseflow to surface waters will be preserved, and reclamation wetlands will likewise have the appropriate hydroperiods to be successful.