Acid Mine Drainage Module – Teacher

Welcome Teachers!

Thank you for selecting this service learning module through the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP). 

Mining has been an important economic activity in the United States for hundreds of years.  Historic mining created towns, provided people with jobs, and produced minerals to sustain industry throughout the world.  Despite these notable activities, as historic mining moved to new areas it left communities impoverished and environmentally degraded.  This module will focus on one major aspect of environmental degradation, acid mine drainage.  

Red and Bonita Mine AMD: US EPA

Acid mine drainage (AMD) is a water pollution source in states where historic mining took place.  When it drains into streams, the low pH and high metals content can leave the streams uninhabitable by plant and animal life and potentially harmful to humans.  

This module will teach your students about pH and other parameters relevant to mining related water quality issues, the chemistry behind the formation of AMD, and the reclamation techniques used to minimize the damage caused by AMD. 

The Upper South Platte watershed is one of the many watersheds in Colorado where historic mining has left its mark.  Addressing pollution from mining falls into CUSP’s mission to protect the water quality and environmental health of the watershed.  Students who complete this module will have the opportunity to visit an abandoned mine site with CUSP staff to collect data for water quality monitoring. 


Sarah Lykens
Outreach Assistant
Coalition for the Upper South Platte

 Service opportunities through CUSP that would complement this curriculum include collecting data at abandoned mine sites or areas affected by acid rock drainage or acid mine drainage.  To schedule a service learning day, please click here.

Teacher’s Guide
Walking the Curriculum

The Acid Mine Drainage Module consists of a pre- and post-assessment, a PowerPoint presentation, three classroom activities for your students, and a service learning day with CUSP.  The activities and supporting documents provided will cover information on the origins of acid mine drainage, the chemical and physical aspects of drainage formation and remediation, and remediation methods.  

The online pre-assessment can be accessed here.  The access code is LM39K.  Please give your students the access code and assign them a “first” and “last” name with which to enter to take the test.  Because the test results will be visible to CUSP, we suggest that you assign your students a unique number sequence for their “first” name and your school name and grade for their “last” name so that they remain anonymous to us yet identifiable to you. Example:  First name – 123, Last name – Arapahoe 9th.

Once your class has completed the service learning module, they need to take the post-assessment here.  The access code for it is 5G86TMS, and they can use the same name as they used for the pre-assessment.  CUSP will send you the results of the assessments.

Teacher’s Guide is a detailed, step-by-step guide to follow as you complete this module.

Students will: (1) understand the origin of acid mine drainage and the chemistry of its formation; (2) understand the physical and chemical processes behind acid mine drainage environmental impacts and remediation techniques; (3) Research acid mine drainage remediation techniques and be able to select appropriate techniques for an acid mine drainage scenario; (4) Participate in fieldwork to observe and monitor the effects of acid mine drainage.
Objectives and Education Standards

Teachers will be required to show proof of classroom work before going into the field.  The entire curriculum will take approximately 5 to 7 hours of class time to complete, plus a day of volunteering. 

Pre-Assessment:                                         20 minutes

PowerPoint Presentation:                            30 minutes

pH,Alkalinity, Acidity, Oh My! Activity:          90 minutes

Sedimentation Activity:                                45 minutes (or 20 minutes if conducting as a teacher demonstration)

Remediation Activity:                                   90 minutes plus work outside of class

Post-Assessment:                                      20 minutes
Estimated Time Required in .pdf format

Supply List is a detailed list of materials needed for each activity. 

pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Oh My!
Remediation Methods

AMD PowerPoint
Student pH Information
Student pH Instructions
Student pH Worksheets
Student Sedimentation Instructions
Remediation Wetlands Handout
AMD and Treatment Handout
Remediation Scenario Handout
Iron Mountain Mine Case Study 
Remediation Criteria Rubric


“Acid Mine Drainage.” WVU Extension Service. West Virginia University. Abandoned Mine Reclamation Clearinghouse.

Fripp, Jon, Paul F. Ziemkiewicz, and Hari Charkavorki. “Acid Mine Drainage Treatment.” US AEC, May 2000.

Ford, K.L. 2003. Passive treatment systems for acid mine drainage. Technical Note 409. BLM/ST/ST-02/001+3596. Bureau of Land Management Web-based report available online at

Golden, Bruce. “Exploring the Process of Sedimentation.” Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation. Abandoned Mine Reclamation Clearinghouse.

“Iron Mountain Mine.” Abandoned Mine Lands Case Study. United States Environmental Protection Agency.

“Iron Mountain Mine.” Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund. United States Environmental Protection Agency.

“pH, Alkalinity, Acidity, Oh My!” Saint Vincent College Environmental Education Center.

“Record of Decision. Old/No. 8 Seep. Iron Mountain Mine. Shasta County, California.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. 24 September 1993.$FILE/IMM%20-%20ROD%209-24-93.pdf.

Sobolewski, A. 1996. Wetlands for Treatment of Mine Drainage. WWW document located at URL

Zipper, C., J. Skousen, and C. Jage. “Passive Treatment of Acid-Mine Drainage.” Virginia Cooperative Extension. 2011.

“Acid Mine Drainage Remediation.” Colorado State University.

“Basic Information.” Engineering Technical Support Center. EPA.

Ford, K.L. 2003. Passive treatment systems for acid mine drainage. Technical Note 409. BLM/ST/ST-02/001+3596. Bureau of Land Management Web based report available online at

Fripp, Jon, Paul F. Ziemkiewicz, and Hari Charkavorki. “Acid Mine Drainage Treatment.” US AEC, May 2000.

“Geology and Earth Science Terms and Definitions.” Geology Definitions.

Golden, Bruce. “Ask Me About Pyrite.” Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation. Presentation.

“Reverse Osmosis.”

SAPS & Vertical Flow Reactors.’S.htm.

Sares, Matthew A. “Geology, Mining, and Water Quality.” Colorado Geological Survey. Presentation.

Trout Unlimited Assault on San Juan County Colorado. July 2010.

“Word Lists.” High School Science Vocabulary.

“Acid Mine Drainage.” Exploring the Environment – Water Quality.
*Information on AMD water chemistry parameters. 

“Acid Mine Drainage.” Water: Polluted Runoff. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
*General AMD information with links to other resources.

“Acid Mine Drainage Formation.” Ecosystem Restoration. Montana State University Bozeman.            *Environmental Impacts of AMD and links.

Comp, T. Allan. “Welcome to the AMD&ART Project in Vintondale, Pennsylvania.”AMD&ART Project in Vintondale, Pennsylvania. AMD&ART.
*Incorporating art into AMD remediation techniques.

Bonnett, Bob. “A Natural Wetland Used to Treat Acid Mine Drainage Entering Manila Creek Amherst-Plymouth Wildlife Management Area Putnam County, West Virginia.” Heizer-Manila Watershed Organization.
*Example of wetlands to treat AMD.

Sobolewski, A. “Coal-generated AMD.” Constructed Wetlands for Treatment of Mine Drainage. 1996.
*Specifics for coal-generated AMD.

Sobolewski, A. “Precious and Base-metal Mines.” Constructed Wetlands for Treatment of Mine Drainage. 1996.            *Specifics for metal-generated AMD.

“Tools to Define Pre-Mining Water-Quality Restoration Targets.” USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program. U.S. Geological Survey.
*Examining pre-mining water quality parameters.