WATER running underneath ground level in Alloa has been found to show traces of pollution from coal mines.

The pollution, found in groundwater, is caused by potentially toxic heavy metals found in forgotten mining tunnels being flushed out into the water supply.

This has become an escalating issue in recent years as climate change worsens the issue, with heavier rainfall washing out more metals from flooded mines.

Alloa forms part of 33 groundwaters in Scotland that failed their recent water quality tests due to historic coal mining, as revealed by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

Paul Butler, mining lead at SEPA, said: “There are extensive former underground coal mine workings in the vicinity of Alloa, but we don’t see many discharges of mine water at the surface.

“There are no rivers around Alloa that fail to meet the required standard due to mining impacts.

“The heat energy contained in the water in the mine workings could help us heat our home and businesses.

“This geothermal resource has the potential to encourage social and economic success in the local area, and play a key role in helping Scotland reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

Mining metals present in Scotland’s waterways include cadmium, iron, lead, manganese and zinc. Polluted groundwater can threaten drinking water supplies, according to England’s Environmental Agency.

Thankfully, the findings do not pose a danger to the public unless mine water finds its way to the surface.

SEPA confirmed it was committed to tackling the challenge of mine water pollution alongside the UK Government’s Coal Authority, which owns Scotland’s former coal mines.

Paul continued: “Pollution as a result of discharges from former coal mine workings is a complex challenge, but one we are committed to addressing alongside the Coal Authority.

“Together, we are undertaking comprehensive monitoring to understand the impact of mining on Scotland’s water environment, and prioritising interventions where thy will have the greatest benefit.

“SEPA also support the development of the Coal Authority’s mine water treatment schemes, with 13 implemented so far.

“We will continue to explore all other opportunities to resolve pollution from former mines.”

Clackmannanshire Council declined to comment.