Water inflow into coal mines has been a design issue for many years. Guidelines as to the potential for water inflow have been developed in many countries based on local experience and the form of mining being undertaken. In most instances, the guidelines relate to inflows which would endanger underground personnel and operations.
In more recent times, water inflow criteria for mines has been widened to include lesser inflows which may not impact on mine safety or operations, but have the potential to reduce water flow within streams and surface aquifers. For the purpose of this paper the larger inflows relating to mining safety are defined as mine inflow and the lesser inflow relating to aquifer water loss as environmental inflow.
The water losses referred to are those which enter the mine from the surface or from near surface aquifers.
The empirical relationships developed as mine design guidelines or regulations typically relate to high flow (mine inflow) situations and in this paper these have been reviewed as to their application to environmental inflow. In many cases environmental inflows were unlikely to have been noted or recorded in many mining operations in the past.