Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Science and Mathematics


Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Dibyendu Sarkar

Committee Member

Rupali Datta

Committee Member

Yang Deng

Committee Member

Eric Perry


Although mining industries such as coal and minerals generate revenue, they are responsible for a number of negative environmental consequences, and the production of acid mine drainage (AMD) and acid sulfate soil are the most concerning among them. Current AMD management practices are expensive, ineffective, or unsustainable. This study evaluated the potential of a cost-effective and environment-friendly “green” technology in treating AMD-impacted water and soil that utilizes the metal-binding and acid-neutralizing capacity of an industrial by-product, namely drinking-water treatment residuals (WTRs) and the extensive root system of a metal hyper-accumulating, fastgrowing, non-invasive, high biomass perennial grass, vetiver (Chrysopopgon zizanioides L.) to prevent soil erosion. AMD-impacted soil and water were collected from the Tab- Simco mine, an abandoned coal mine in Carbondale, IL. Two locally produced WTRs: Al-WTR and Ca-WTR were used for this study. A field-scale, gravity flow 208L WTRfilter was prepared following the laboratory batch sorption and laboratory-scale WTRfilter column experiments. A 1:6 sand-WTR ratio with a 1:1 Al-WTR and Ca-WTR was optimized for the filter media. The results showed that pH of AMD-water was increased from 2.27 to 7.8, and the concentration of Fe, Al, Zn, As, Pb, and Mn was decreased by 99% after the filtration. Different WTR application rates (2.5%, 5%, and 10% w/w) were tested during a 60 days soil incubation study. A follow-up four-month long greenhouse column study was performed using 5% and 10% w/w WTR application rates. Vetiver grass was grown on the soil-WTR mixed media. Turbidity and Total Suspended Solids (TSS) analysis of leachates showed that soil erosion decreased in the soil-WTR-vetiver system over time. Finally, a scaled-up simulated field study was performed using a 5% WTR application rate and Vetiver for four months. Soil pH increased from 2.6 to 7.7, and soil erosion indicators such as turbidity (99%) and TSS (95%) in leachates were significantly reduced. Results from the study showed that this “green,” inexpensive, and sustainable remediation technique has the potential to effectively treat AMD–impacted water and soil.