30 CFR § 785.19 - Surface coal mining and reclamation operations on areas or adjacent to areas including alluvial valley floors in the arid and semiarid areas west of the 100th meridian.
(a) Alluvial valley floor determination.
(1) Permit applicants who propose to conduct surface coal mining and reclamation operations within a valley holding a stream or in a location where the permit area or adjacent area includes any stream, in the arid and semiarid regions of the United States, as an initial step in the permit process, may request the regulatory authority to make an alluvial valley floor determination with respect to that valley floor. The applicant shall demonstrate and the regulatory authority shall determine, based on either available data or field studies submitted by the applicant, or a combination of available data and field studies, the presence or absence of an alluvial valley floor. Studies shall include sufficiently detailed geologic, hydrologic, land use, soils, and vegetation data and analysis to demonstrate the probable existence of an alluvial valley floor in the area. The regulatory authority may require additional data collection and analysis or other supporting documents, maps, and illustrations in order to make the determination.
(2) The regulatory authority shall make a written determination as to the extent of any alluvial valley floors within the area. The regulatory authority shall determine that an alluvial valley floor exists if it finds that -
(i) Unconsolidated streamlaid deposits holding streams are present; and
(ii) There is sufficient water available to support agricultural activities as evidenced by -
(A) The existence of current flood irrigation in the area in question;
(B) The capability of an area to be flood irrigated, based on evaluations of typical regional agricultural practices, historical flood irrigation, streamflow, water quality, soils, and topography; or
(C) Subirrigation of the lands in question derived from the ground-water system of the valley floor.
(b) Applicability of statutory exclusions.
(1) If an alluvial valley floor is identified pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of this section and the proposed surface coal mining operation may affect this alluvial valley floor or waters that supply the alluvial valley floor, the applicant may request the regulatory authority, as a preliminary step in the permit application process, to separately determine the applicability of the statutory exclusions set forth in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. The regulatory authority may make such a determination based on the available data, may require additional data collection and analysis in order to make the determination, or may require the applicant to submit a complete permit application and not make the determination until after the complete application is evaluated.
(2) An applicant need not submit the information required in paragraphs (d)(2) (ii) and (iii) of this section and a regulatory authority is not required to make the findings of paragraphs (e)(2) (i) and (ii) of this section when the regulatory authority determines that one of the following circumstances, heretofore called statutory exclusions, exist:
(ii) Any farming on the alluvial valley floor that would be affected by the surface coal mining operation is of such small acreage as to be of negligible impact on the farm's agricultural production. Negligible impact of the proposed operation on farming will be based on the relative importance of the affected farmland areas of the alluvial valley floor area to the farm's total agricultural production over the life of the mine; or
(iii) The circumstances set forth in § 822.12(b) (3) or (4) of this chapter exist.
(3) For the purpose of this section, a farm is one or more land units on which farming is conducted. A farm is generally considered to be the combination of land units with acreage and boundaries in existence prior to August 3, 1977, or if established after August 3, 1977, with those boundaries based on enhancement of the farm's agricultural productivity and not related to surface coal operations.
(c) Summary denial. If the regulatory authority determines that the statutory exclusions are not applicable and that any of the required findings of paragraph (e)(2) of this section cannot be made, the regulatory authority may, at the request of the applicant:
(2) Prohibit surface coal mining and reclamation operations in all or parts of the area to be affected by mining.
(d) Application contents for operations affecting designated alluvial valley floors.
(1) If land within the permit area or adjacent area is identified as an alluvial valley floor and the proposed surface coal mining operation may affect an alluvial valley floor or waters supplied to an alluvial valley floor, the applicant shall submit a complete application for the proposed surface coal mining and reclamation operations to be used by the regulatory authority together with other relevant information as a basis for approval or denial of the permit. If an exclusion of paragraph (b)(2) of this section applies, then the applicant need not submit the information required in paragraphs (d)(2) (ii) and (iii) of this section.
(i) The essential hydrologic functions of the alluvial valley floor which might be affected by the mining and reclamation process. The information required by this subparagraph shall evaluate those factors which contribute to the collecting, storing, regulating and making the natural flow of water available for agricultural activities on the alluvial valley floor and shall include, but are not limited to:
(A) Factors contributing to the function of collecting water, such as amount, rate and frequency of rainfall and runoff, surface roughness, slope and vegetative cover, infiltration, and evapotranspiration, relief, slope and density of drainage channels;
(B) Factors contributing to the function of storing water, such as permeability, infiltration, porosity, depth and direction of ground water flow, and water holding capacity;
(C) Factors contributing to the function of regulating the flow of surface and ground water, such as the longitudinal profile and slope of the valley and channels, the sinuosity and cross-sections of the channels, interchange of water between streams and associated alluvial and bedrock aquifers, and rates and amount of water supplied by these aquifers; and
(D) Factors contributing to water availability, such as the presence of flood plains and terraces suitable for agricultural activities.
(1) The findings of paragraphs (e)(2) (i) and (ii) of this section are not required with regard to alluvial valley floors to which are applicable any of the exclusions of paragraph (b)(2) of this section.
(2) No permit or permit revision application for surface coal mining and reclamation operations on lands located west of the 100th meridian west longitude shall be approved by the regulatory authority unless the application demonstrates and the regulatory authority finds in writing, on the basis of information set forth in the application, that -
(i) The proposed operations will not interrupt, discontinue, or preclude farming on an alluvial valley floor;
(ii) The proposed operations will not materially damage the quantity or quality of water in surface and underground water systems that supply alluvial valley floors; and