An uncontrolled release of Iron Mountain acid mine drainage could potentially threaten the quality of the drinking-water supply. Detailed studies beginning in the 1970s have demonstrated that Iron Mountain produces some of the most acidic waters in the world (Nordstrom 1977, Nordstrom & Alpers 1999a, Nordstrom and others, 2000).
The use of water in mining has the potential to affect the quality of surrounding surface water and groundwater. In response to environmental concerns and government regulations, the mining industry worldwide increasingly monitors water discharged from mine sites, and has implemented a number of strategies to prevent water pollution.
As groundwater flows through the ground, metals such as iron and manganese are dissolved and may later be found in high concentrations in the water. Industrial discharges, urban activities, agriculture, groundwater pumpage, and disposal of waste all can affect groundwater quality.