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Here in our area there are many small farmers. When I say small I mean they are not huge conglomerates, but family farms that milk 70-80 cows or run a hundred beef cows or a few hundred sheep. Many of these farms have been in the family for many generations, passed down from one son to another. If you are going to farm you must have water. We have been blessed in this area to have many natural streams and springs. They may get a little low in the summer, but generally, year-round water is not a problem.

I am good friends with one farmer, you have probably seen his picture on my flickr account:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/622144122/

He owns hundreds of acres of nice pasture land/woods/hay fields. It is a beautiful farm with many springs and streams:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/406299095/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/501574818/

and a nice old barn:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/269437428/

Another industry we have around here is coal-mining. Many people work in the mines, it is a huge part of our economy. During the last 15-16 years the tradtional method of mining, called room and pillar, has given way to a method called longwall mining. Basically a machine is set up that takes a huge swath of coal several hundred feet wide and miles long. As the machine moves the coal is removed and the earth caves in behind it. This causes surface damage in varying degrees. Some places there are huge cracks in the earth, house foundations are cracked and damaged, sometimes homes must be torn down and completely replaced. But the most serious damage takes place in these small creeks, streams, and springs. They often dry up completely. And this is what has happened on Roy's farm.

I talked to him one night last week and he said he had to go check the water on the lower farm, he later told me it had dried to a trickle, now it is completely dried up. This morning his Mom told me it is now drying up on the upper farm. This means he has five huge pastures with NO WATER. Bad news for a farmer with cattle.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/501574778/

Cows drink a lot of water. So today the coal mine has people coming to install water troughs and tanks. They will start sending someone to keep these tanks filled 24-7. Some of these pastures are not accessible from the road, not sure how that is going to work.

It seems a shame that the water has to be lost, hopefully as time goes by it will come back. Sometimes it does, but not always in the same places. Cale rides his horse all over the place and he tells me that there are places where the water comes out like a geyser! And places where the creeks have run as long as he can remember and now they are completely dry.
 

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Coal mining companies are out of control as are Southern and Duke energy. In the name of greed, the mining companies are destroying the land (W VA may be nothing but mining waste here soon) and the 2 named energy companies are spewing pollution as they will not update their coal burning plants. I'm not buying it costs too much money, utility companies are making BIG BIG bucks as I'm pretty sure the exec salary and bonus payouts are not borrowed money.
Melissa, I feel for your neighbor, I'm surprised the coal company is making the effort to help him out. There must be hard and fast proof they are the destroyer of the water supply as I can't believe they'd willingly help him out. I wish him luck as keeping those filled 24 X 7 is not going to be a cakewalk. I expect a buyout offer from big coal.
 

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It is so sad to hear these stories. I feel for the small farmers, their families, homes and animals. We are running into something similiar in my mil's area next county over. A big powerplant has been buying up farms under false pretenses behind the back of the citizens and the elected officials were making deals without informing the citizens. My bro in law and mil and other landowners started an organization to stop the powerplant from coming to their county. In addition to fighting crooked politicians, imminent domain and pollution they keep trying to show how the communities these power plants move into DO NOT bring in more jobs, business revenue, help the communities, and increase population but just the opposite happens. Sadly many of the farmers and town people don't understand or want to believe that these powerplants WILL USE UP most the area farms water supply. :(

Another interesting point is the continuation and expanation of these coal mining operations and powerplants goes to show you the push for alternative fuel sources is mostly hype. I understand coal is a very cheap source and most of us don't need higher costs especially for energy we all use but at what expense??? I would like to see more money and time invested in funding and inventing better ways to cut back the pollution and water use of our coal plants. Thanks for the post. People need to keep updated on the pros and cons of this sort of "progress".
 

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Discussion Starter #5
They do repair homes, even putting in new homes for many families. They have run county water to many places. We had county water run to us about 14 years ago. They paid our bill for five years, then gave us a settlement. They do try to work with people. They know they cause the damage. As to a buy-out, he would never sell, farm has been in his family for about 9 generations.
 

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Melissa, We have precisely the same problems in Australia. In one case, (at least), there is a mining company that requires a lot of water for its operations, and that water is being siphoned away from farmers. I think that supporters of such mining ventures will find out too late that you can't eat coal.
 

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rose2005 said:
Whereabouts in Virginia?
Plenty of pictures from West Virginia where they've been blowing off the top of mountains and the 'waste' is filling streams and valleys. They've had some lawsuits going but if I remember correctly, somehow a 'law' was passed or court decision said states can't 'regulate' big coal. Logan County is one area that I remember off the top of my head. Mountain top removal is what I've heard the process called.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Winter will be a problem as the farm is on a narrow country road and there is no electric available to keep things thawed. He generally does keep the cows in only one pasture during the winter, the one closest to the road and with the barn. I don't know if there are solar heaters that can be put in the tanks to keep them thawed?
 

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Funny how geography works. I bacame a farm "with water" after all of our rain. We have new creek paths and ponds on our property after our record breaking 35 inches of rain in 30 days.

Tell Roy we will start a Homesteading Today bucket Brigade from Oklahoma.

I wish we could.

Good luck to him and the cows.
Kimberly
 

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.................In reference too the surface mining in WV , I believe they were cutting off the tops of the hills , then pushing the overburden into the valleys on either side of the hills , which completely covered any running creeks ! I believe a Fed. District judge has ordered a halt too such activities in the recent past . I read this somewhere previously but can't remember where . , fordy
 

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For the shortterm, I think there is no alternative to large scale surface mining of coal in the Appalachians, still, if money is allocated some sort of reclamation can be conducted whcih like everything else adds to the overall costs of everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Roy called me a little while ago he had picked up feed so I ran out to get it. The coal mine was sending a man who is supposed to be an expert at finding and developing springs. He is going to look over the farm and see if there is anyplace to develop one or more. Roy said two of his five pastures have no water at all right now, the rest have very little.
 

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fordy said:
.................In reference too the surface mining in WV , I believe they were cutting off the tops of the hills , then pushing the overburden into the valleys on either side of the hills , which completely covered any running creeks ! I believe a Fed. District judge has ordered a halt too such activities in the recent past . I read this somewhere previously but can't remember where . , fordy
Check out www.ilovemountains.org very sobering info on mountaintop removal. This group even put out a "youtube" video about it, and they have maps on google earth.

I do remember something about the companies not being allowed to strip mine and just leave the land "fallow" when they were done. They get around this by planting a few scrub pines that die becuase there is no soil left, or some even plant grass, or build airports (that never get built because the people there are so darn poor they can barely afford a paper airplane :rolleyes: ) There are lots of ways for the coal companies to reclaim the land that leave it NOTHING like it was before, including the ruined springs and streams.
 

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Well I guess that the miners are glad to acomidate the land owner instead of haveing a water well go through their mine.
 

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If his family has owned the land for 9 generations, how did the mining company get mineral rights? Don't they have to have mineral rights to mine under a property? We occasionally see deeds and abstracts that transfers the property but retains rights for mining of coal or gypsum. Coal is no longer mined in this area but gypsum is big. I know its common out west for oil rights to be sold for large tracks of land.
 

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West Virginia has mine reclamation and puts the dirt back behind where they strip the coal, making it flat land and they replant it with rough grass.

You can use flat ground to build on, but you can't use mountain top for much.

They do not get by shoving dirt over hills anymore.

They also do long wall mining and deep mining, in WV.

bumpus
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