By Shaun Busler
Stream Restoration Inc.
August 31, 2001
(Indiana, PA) - Summer has come and so has a team of individuals from diverse backgrounds to the hills of western Pennsylvania. Their goal - to restore Laurel Run to a productive fishery. Locals often talk about the once productive trout fishery. Today, from the very headwaters of this stream, abandoned mine drainage has left its orange and white mark consisting of iron and aluminum. Not much life can be found in the murky, acidic water all the way down to its convergence with Blacklick Creek. Stream Restoration Incorporated hopes to change things.
Since the beginning of summer, the Blacklick Creek Watershed Association in conjunction with Stream Restoration, PA DEP, and Amerikohl Mining began construction of a passive treatment system to treat over 100 gallons per minute of acidic mine drainage flowing out of an old, abandoned, underground mine. Passive treatment systems use only environmentally friendly materials without the use of electricity. By capturing the flow and running it through a layer of compost and limestone, they will effectively treat the water by raising the pH and removing metals. The passive treatment system consists of two vertical flow ponds built in parallel, allowing the entire discharge to flow into one pond if one needs maintenance. In addition, an innovative underdrain system will allow the metals to flush out of the ponds. Finally, a 1/2 acre wetland will "polish" the water by removing iron and aluminum particulates. The discharge will have a projected pH of 7 with over 100 mg/L of alkalinity and virtually no metals by the time it leaves the site. Over 68,000 lbs/yr of acidity, 4,000 lbs/yr of iron, and 6,000 lbs/yr of aluminum will no longer enter Laurel Run. This will dramatically improve over two miles of stream.
With the help of Scott Alexander, PA DEP,
Bureau of Mining and Reclamation, a preliminary survey of Laurel Run has
been completed. This valuable information allows Stream Restoration
to evaluate the successfulness of the project and will help guide future
remediation efforts. Through these public-private partnerships, which
include local grass roots groups, residents, industry, and government agencies,
Pennsylvania has become a leader in reclaiming abandoned mine lands.
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Stream Restoration Incorporated