Pennsylvania Code & Bulletin
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA

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25 Pa. Code § 87.119. Hydrologic balance: water rights and replacement.

§ 87.119. Hydrologic balance: water rights and replacement.

 (a)  Water supply replacement obligations. The operator of any mine or a person engaged in government-financed reclamation who affects a water supply by contamination, pollution, diminution or interruption shall restore or replace the affected water supply with an alternate source, adequate in water quantity and water quality, for the purpose served by the water supply.

   (1)  To be adequate, the restored or replacement water supply, at a minimum, shall:

     (i)   Be as reliable as the previous water supply.

     (ii)   Be as permanent as the previous water supply.

     (iii)   Not require excessive maintenance.

     (iv)   Provide the owner and the user with as much control and accessibility as exercised over the previous water supply. The use of a public water supply as a replacement water supply provides the owner and the user adequate control and accessibility.

     (v)   Not result in more than a de minimis cost increase to operate and maintain.

   (2)  If the operating and maintenance costs of the restored or replacement water supply are more than a de minimis cost increase, the operator shall provide for the permanent payment of the increased operating and maintenance costs of the restored or replacement water supply.

   (3)  The requirement contained in this subsection to restore or replace an affected water supply or an individual requirement of paragraphs (1) and (2) may be waived. The waiver shall be in writing on a form prepared by the Department. Everyone who possesses an ownership interest in the water supply shall sign the waiver. The form shall be recorded at the office of the recorder of deeds in the county in which the water supply is situated and a notarized copy of the form shall be provided to the Department.

 (b)  Presumption of liability for pollution.

   (1)  It shall be presumed, as a matter of law, that a surface mine operator or mine owner is responsible without proof of fault, negligence or causation for all pollution, except bacteriological contamination, and diminution of public or private water supplies within 1,000 linear feet (304.80 meters) of the boundaries of the areas bonded and affected by coal mining operations, areas of overburden removal and storage and support areas except for haul and access roads.

   (2)  If surface mining activities are conducted on areas which are not permitted or bonded, it shall be presumed, as a matter of law, that the surface mine operator or mine owner is responsible without proof of fault, negligence or causation for all pollution, except bacteriological contamination, and diminution of public or private water supplies within 1,000 linear feet (304.80 meters) of the land affected by the surface mining activities.

 (c)  Defenses to presumption of liability. There are only five defenses to the presumption of liability provided in subsection (b). For any of the five defenses to apply, the mine operator or mine owner shall affirmatively prove by a preponderance of evidence that one or more of the following conditions exists:

   (1)  The landowner or water supply company refused to allow the surface mine operator or mine owner access to conduct a water supply survey prior to commencing surface mining activities.

   (2)  The water supply is not within 1,000 linear feet (304.80 meters) of:

     (i)   The boundaries of areas bonded and affected by coal mining operations, areas of overburden removal and storage and areas used for support but not including haul and access roads.

     (ii)   The boundaries of areas affected by surface mining activities in areas which are not bonded.

   (3)  The pollution or diminutation existed prior to the surface mining activities as evidenced by a water supply survey conducted prior to commencing surface mining activities and as documented in the approved surface mine permit application submitted to the Department prior to permit issuance.

   (4)  The pollution or diminution occurred as a result of some cause other than the surface mining activities.

   (5)  The landowner, water supply user or water supply company refused to allow the surface mine operator or mine owner access to determine the cause of pollution or diminution or to replace or restore the water supply.

 (d)  Notification to Department. The surface mine operator or mine owner shall notify the Department and provide all information which supports a defense to the presumption of liability when one or more of the five defenses to the presumption of liability provided in subsection (c) are met. If a surface mine operator’s or mine owner’s defense to the presumption of liability is based on the conditions of subsection (c)(1), the operator or owner shall submit evidence to the Department demonstrating that the landowner or water supply company was notified by certified mail or personal service that the refusal of access to conduct a water supply survey could be used to rebut a presumption of liability.

 (e)  Immediate replacement of water supply. If the Department finds that immediate replacement of an affected water supply used for potable or domestic purposes is required to protect public health or safety and the surface mine operator or mine owner has failed to comply with an order issued under section 4.2(f) of SMCRA (52 P. S. §  1396.4b(f)), the Department may use moneys from the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Fund to restore or replace the affected water supply.

 (f)  Department cost of recovery. The Department will recover the costs of restoration or replacement, the costs of temporary water supply and costs incurred for design and construction of facilities from the responsible surface mine operator or mine owner. Costs recovered will be deposited in the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Fund.

 (g)  Operator cost recovery. A surface mine operator or mine owner who appeals a Department order, provides a successful defense during the appeal to the presumptions of liability and is not otherwise held responsible for the pollution or diminution is entitled to recovery of reasonable costs incurred, including, but not limited to, the costs of temporary water supply, design, construction, and restoration or replacement costs from the Department.

 (h)  Other remedies. Nothing in this section prevents a landowner, water supply user or water supply company who claims pollution or diminution of a water supply from pursuing any other remedy that may be provided for in law or in equity.

 (i)  Issuance of new permits. A Department order issued under this section which is appealed will not be used to block issuance of new permits or the release of bonds when a stage of reclamation work is completed.

 (j)  Department authority. Nothing in this section limits the Departments authority under section 4.2(f)(l) of SMCRA.

 (k)  Exception. A surface mining operation conducted under a surface mining permit issued by the Department before February 16, 1993, is not subject to subsections (b)—(i), but is subject to subsections (a) and (j).

Source

   The provisions of this §  87.119 adopted December 19, 1980, 10 Pa.B. 4789, effective July 31, 1982, 12 Pa.B. 2382; amended July 30, 1982, 12 Pa.B. 2473, effective July 31, 1982, 12 Pa.B. 2382; amended May 8, 1998, effective May 9, 1998, 28 Pa.B. 2215; amended June 17, 2011, effective June 18, 2011, 41 Pa.B. 3084. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (244089) to (244090) and (335809) to (335810).

Notes of Decisions

   Costs

   The Environmental Hearing Board properly found that the operator of a surface coal mine was required to permanently provide compensation for the increased maintenance costs of an adjacent property owner’s well water supply and establish an individual trust or escrow account for such future costs. Carlson Mining Co., v. Department of Environmental Resources, 639 A.2d 1332 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1994); appeal denied by 649 A.2d 676 (Pa. 1994).

Cross References

   This section cited in 25 Pa. Code §  87.1 (relating to definitions); 25 Pa. Code §  87.47 (relating to alternative water supply information); 25 Pa. Code §  89.173 (relating to performance standards); and 25 Pa. Code §  90.116a (relating to hydrologic balance: water rights and replacement).



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