Railroad Commissioners Present 2015 Reclamation Award to Texas Westmoreland Coal Company


AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas today announced the 2015 Reclamation Award recipient, the Texas Westmoreland Coal Company’s Jewett mine in Freestone, Leon and Limestone counties. Commissioners recognized the company for its innovative, solar-powered water well that supplies a portable irrigation system used for re-vegetation of reclaimed acreage planted with trees and shrubs. 

Nearly half of the mine’s 31,000 total acres are in various stages of reclamation as required by Railroad Commission rules to protect public safety and natural resources. Westmoreland’s solar-powered, irrigation system is instrumental in establishing vegetative cover for the company’s reclaimed acreage. 

Chairman David Porter said, “Because of the mine’s remote location, traditional overhead transmission lines were not available to power a water well for reclamation. Instead, Westmoreland researched and then developed a large Solar Powered Reclamation Well to irrigate reclaimed areas, ultimately carrying on a long-standing, Texas coal mining practice of restoring natural areas.”

Commissioner Christi Craddick said, “The innovation by Westmoreland Coal Company is typical of our energy producers in Texas. They take a challenge and then develop a new way to address a challenge, in this case, how to irrigate a remote, large-scale re-vegetation project in a dry climate.” 

Commissioner Ryan Sitton said, “The Jewett mine is one of the largest in Texas and produces about five million tons of lignite annually or about 9 percent of the state’s total coal production each year. I applaud Westmoreland’s creativity in figuring out how to bring energy and water resources to an isolated area for required reclamation.” 

The system captures solar energy through several large photovoltaic modules, which then send the converted energy to electric water pumps. Groundwater is brought to the surface and temporarily held in large, on-site storage tanks until battery-powered remote control valves open, allowing water to flow through the irrigation systems until the preprogrammed interval of time has expired. Each irrigation zone is synched allowing for a nearly complete autonomous watering system.


From left: Derrell Ezell, Texas Westmoreland Coal Company Environmental Superintendent; Railroad Commission Chairman David Porter; Denny Kingsley, Texas Westmoreland Coal Company President & General Manager; and Railroad Commissioners Christi Craddick and Ryan Sitton presenting the Railroad Commission of Texas’ 2015 Reclamation Award. 

About the Railroad Commission

Our mission is to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans. The Commission has a long and proud history of service to both Texas and to the nation, including almost 100 years regulating the oil and gas industry. The Commission also has jurisdiction over alternative fuels safety, natural gas utilities, surface mining and intrastate pipelines. Established in 1891, the Railroad Commission of Texas is the oldest regulatory agency in the state. To learn more, please visit http://www.rrc.texas.gov