Water Conflicts in Western Coal Development

by Theodore T. Williams, (F.ASCE), Prof. and Head; Dept. of Civ. Engrg. and Engrg. Mechanics, Montana State Univ., Bozeman, Mont.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Water Resources Planning and Management Division, 1976, Vol. 102, Issue 2, Pg. 327-339

Document Type: Journal Paper


Coal development is increasing rapidly in the Northern Great Plains. Strip mining in the Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming Fort Union region may reach 977,000,000 tons/yr by 2000. Water requirements for surface strip mining are negligible, but significant quantities are required for conversion processes. Using the fastest rate of production currently projected, a total of 800,400 acre-ft a year could be needed. This much water is available in the region, but major conflicts exist: New storage reservoirs may be required to provide the water when needed; possible agricultural development may need all the water that can be made available; fish and wildlife needs, recreation uses, and environmental preservation may preclude development.

Subject Headings: Water-based recreation | Water storage | Water conservation | Water management | Mines and mining | Surface water | Water surface | Reservoirs | United States | Montana | North Dakota | Wyoming

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