Our Approach to Water

Arch is committed to protecting, maintaining, and enhancing water resources in all areas of its business. We go to great lengths to develop and deploy effective, proactive measures that limit the impact of our operations on water withdrawal, water quality, and water-based habitats.

Each operating location takes a precise, tailored approach to water quality management — one based on a comprehensive evaluation of water needs, relevant habitats, and potential impacts.

Over the years, Arch has continually intensified its focus on oversight and reporting accuracy through increased employee training, cross training, and the broad implementation of real-time alert systems. As part of this effort, the Arch team employs a suite of hand-held, digital tools that enhance efficiency, accuracy and data management associated with treatment system, run-off and other water quality inspections.

Through ongoing and systematic reviews of each operation’s water management processes, Arch’s environmental professionals regularly identify opportunities to protect storm water, thus removing the need for downstream treatment. This process includes diverting flows around the active mining operations to proactively minimize potential impacts.

Extraordinary Compliance Record


compliance rate in 2020

Arch performed over 168,000 water-quality tests and recorded just one exceedance.

Through the application of its Compliance Management System and its sharp focus on water quality management, Arch has achieved an extraordinary compliance record. During the past five years, Arch has tested an average of 338,000 water quality parameters per year at its current and former mining operations, and recorded an average of just four exceedances per year. In 2020, Arch performed over 168,000 water quality tests, and had just one exceedance. Arch’s compliance record sets the standard for the U.S. industry, and equates to a compliance rate of 99.999 percent, despite the frequent occurrence of extreme and fast-moving weather conditions in the mountainous terrain of Appalachia. In those rare instances when an exceedance has occurred, it has nearly always been minor in nature and has been addressed and brought back into compliance almost immediately.

Compliance Management System

For more than a decade, Arch has been operating in conformance with an EPA-approved Compliance Management System (CMS), modeled after the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System standard. Under our CMS, we require each subsidiary facility to maintain full compliance with all applicable environmental regulations and to monitor that performance in alignment with the Plan/Do/Check/Act model, also known as the Deming Cycle. Each operation regularly reviews its applicable regulatory framework and its environmental operating risks, ranks those risks and mitigates those risks accordingly. Each operation regularly performs self-evaluations of compliance performance, and that performance is supplemented by corporate environmental audits and third-party audits to double-check compliance performance and minimize risk of noncompliance or environmental harm. The CMS has built-in measures to drive continuous improvement, with emphasis on risk reduction and environmental performance improvement.

Annual environmental improvement plans are developed by each facility and incentives for outstanding environmental compliance performance are awarded. Underpinning the overall environmental program, Arch utilizes an industry-leading environmental management information system (EMIS) to assist in managing and tracking environmental data; compliance obligations; audit findings and corrective actions; and regular internal reporting of environmental activities. Arch continues to build out the capabilities of its EMIS to continue to improve the efficiency of compliance administration and to reduce risks of environmental harm.

All of our subsidiary mining operations maintain Environmental Management Systems (EMS) that align to ISO 14001:2015. We are working towards certification of our environmental management systems to conform to the internationally recognized ISO 14001 standard.

Water Conservation and Recycling

Arch subsidiary operations employ a wide array of strategies to minimize water usage. The company’s subsidiary operations recycle and reuse water from on-site sources in the coal washing and preparation process, in road-dust suppression activities, and in other essential tasks. Closing the water loop and reducing water discharge points not only reduces the need for obtaining additional water resources, but also lowers the risk of environmental impact.

Reducing Water Discharge Points


discharge points eliminated


reduction since 2015

Arch subsidiary operations have invested significant effort in conserving and recycling water to minimize the need to access outside water resources. In 2020, Arch subsidiaries recycled nearly 1 billion gallons of water, thus avoiding drawing a commensurate amount of new gallons from surrounding water sources. These are “gallons avoided” and constitute saving approximately 37 percent of the water that otherwise would have been withdrawn to run Arch’s subsidiary operations. The company continues to explore ways to expand its recycling efforts still further. Through an intense focus on completing robust mine reclamation activities, Arch has eliminated over 1,300 discharge points at current and former mining operations since 2015. That equates to a reduction of nearly 67 percent of its total discharge points, with the goal of achieving further reductions in coming years.

Beginning with the 2020 operating year, Arch is accounting for its operational water usage according to the guidelines published by the International Council on Mining and Metals as “A Practical Guide to Consistent Water Reporting (2017).” This framework provides methods for quantifying water inputs to a mine’s operation, outputs back to the environment, water consumed by the processes, and recycled water streams, which constitute clean gallons avoided.

2020 Water Usage

Water Accounting

(in millions of gallons, for Arch and its subsidiary operations)*

Water Withdrawn Water Recycled Water Reused Total Water Used (=Withdrawn + Recycled) Water and Wastewater Discharged Water Consumed
1,697 982 0 2,697 1,390 307

* These numbers are best estimates. Arch continues to refine its data collection and reporting processes, and these numbers will change as the models evolve.

Water Withdrawn by Source

(in millions of gallons, for Arch and its subsidiary operations)*

Surface Water Groundwater Municipal Water Total
637 (37.5%) 1,046 (61.6%) 15 (0.9%) 1,697 (100%)

* These numbers are best estimates. Arch continues to refine its data collection and reporting processes, and these numbers will change as the models evolve.

According to the Water Resources Institute website, and based on the fact that all Arch subsidiary operations are within the United States of America, Arch has no operations that are within regions with “high or extremely high baseline water stress,” and therefore 0 percent of our water is sourced from regions with “high or extremely high baseline water stress.”

Of all the water recycled and reused (982 million gallons) by Arch subsidiary operations, 100 percent of that volume is recycled back through the same process at the same facility or through a different process at the same facility. Zero percent is reused by a different Arch facility or non-Arch facility.