Abandoned Mine Site Investigation & Reclamation

Former Coal Strip Mine
Wapello County, Iowa

Services Provided


Regulatory Agencies Involved
Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Division of Soil Conservation, Mines and Minerals Bureau 
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Trihydro was contracted with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Division of Soil Conservation, Mines and Minerals Bureau (Bureau) to develop reclamation plans for the abandoned mine land site identified as the Teach AML Reclamation Site. The site is a former coal strip mine area consisting of polluted water, a large water-inundated pit, vertical highwall, large spoil/overburden piles, and clogged streams.

Trihydro performed a site investigation to document and assess the condition and hazards associated with site features. Feature mapping, aerial photos, LiDAR topographic mapping, and digital photos taken during the field investigation were compiled into a web-based project management portal that included a site-specific GIS application. Trihydro developed conceptual and preliminary reclamation plans for review by the Bureau and landowners. To aid in the development of the site plans, a natural resource survey and geotechnical investigation were performed to identify potential Waters of the US, wetland areas, water quality, depth of spoil material, and surface soil composition. This investigation included wetland delineations, geotechnical drilling, soil, and surface water sampling and analysis.  

The final reclamation design for the site incorporates geomorphically stable design concepts (landform grading) using Carlson’s Natural Regrade software. This site is one of the State of Iowa’s first AML sites to be designed completely using the landform grading approach. Trihydro prepared final construction plans and specifications, developed an engineer’s estimate, prepared bid documents, conducted the pre-bid meeting and tour, and assisted the Bureau with Bid Adjudication for the project. The construction plans included the project location, landownership/permit boundaries, survey control, existing site features, proposed grading, proposed cross sections and profiles, construction details, and a stormwater pollution prevention plan.  Construction specifications included specifications for mobilization/demobilization, safety, utility locates, and construction documentation; earthwork; debris removal; drainage and erosion control; pit dewatering; soil amendments to address acidic materials; and revegetation.

Trihydro and the Bureau coordinated with the landowners and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a design that provided for the abatement of the polluted drainages from the area as well as, eliminated the recognized public safety and other environmental concerns present at the site, while mitigating disturbance to wetlands and Waters of the U.S. Trihydro was retained to provide construction management and perform on-site construction monitoring beginning in early 2014. Reclamation generated approximately 210,000 cubic yards of fill material, which was mainly used to fill the pit and construct ridges and valleys to create sub-watersheds within the site. Reclamation grading and acidic soil amendments were completed in October 2014. Revegetation was completed during the summer of 2015.  
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A core Trihydro value is incorporating sustainable approaches to our projects. To this end Trihydro has proactively developed experience applying geomorphically stable landform grading approaches. Through proper planning and design, the Teach AML site will be one of the first sites in Iowa to be designed completely using the landform grading approach.