Short Course 2

Source apportionment of mine pollution in watersheds: An introduction to the tracer dilution and synoptic sampling approach


Patrick Byrne, Liverpool John Moores University, UK


1 day on Sunday (2021-07-11)


Need for the workshop. Pollution from abandoned and active mines is recognised as a major cause of failure to achieve water quality objectives around the world. As such, identification and remediation of mine pollution sources is one of the major challenges facing environmental managers. Developed by the U.S. Geological Survey, the tracer dilution and synoptic sampling approach has been used extensively in the USA to inform remediation under the Abandoned Mine Lands Initiative. The approach provides streamflow estimates across a watershed by measuring the dilution of a conservative tracer injected into the stream. Combined with synchronous (or synoptic) water quality measurements, the approach provides spatially detailed assessments of pollutant loads and sources for remediation decision-making.

Target audience. The target audience for this workshop includes practitioners and researchers who are interested in understanding the sources and impacts of mine pollution in watersheds. Specifically, the workshop will appeal to those interested in locating sources of mine pollution and quantifying the relative importance of different sources at the watershed-scale. Professionals who might be interested in this workshop include hydrologists, hydrogeologists, water quality scientists, ecologists, environmental engineers, and mine site remediation and rehabilitation scientists.

Outline. The workshop will follow the format of previous successful knowledge exchange workshops delivered to UK practitioners and scientists as part of a UK research council (NERC) funded project. The programme will run from (approximately) 0900 to 1600 and include five sessions: an introduction (0900-0930), three technical sessions (0930-1530), and a final discussion (1530-1600). Each of the three technical sessions will include a 30 minute presentation followed by a 60 minute practical activity. The sessions topics are: ‘Preparing for a tracer dilution experiment’, Executing a tracer dilution experiment’ and ‘Analysis and communication of tracer dilution data’.

Outcomes and benefits. The overall aim of the workshop is to build the capacity of environmental managers, scientists and engineers to monitor and remediate mine pollution in watersheds. At the end of the workshop, participants will be able to: (i) design a tracer dilution and synoptic sampling experiment; (ii) understand how to conduct a tracer dilution experiment; (iii) perform a mine pollution source apportionment analysis; and (iv) evaluate potential water quality improvements from hypothetical remediation scenarios.    

This workshop will benefit practitioners and researchers interested in understanding and mitigating the impacts of mine pollution in the environment. Environmental managers and remediation scientists in particular will benefit from understanding how to locate and discern the relative importance of different mine pollution sources across a watershed, and to evaluate the benefits of remedial alternatives.

Materials. The technical sessions outlined above will be structured around a case study of the Nant Cwmnewyddion stream in central Wales. The publication can be accessed here. For each of the three technical sessions, workshop participants will receive an excel spreadsheet containing case study data and a handout with instructions on how to perform different analyses. Participants will receive all of the presentation slides in pdf format.