Six Reclamation Projects Under Construction 
in Slippery Rock Watershed!!!

By Cliff Denholm
Stream Restoration Inc.

August 15, 2001

Slippery Rock, PA -  Up in northern Butler County, in Western Pennsylvania, coal mining has been conducted for over 100 years.  Mining communities, which were once hustling bustling communities have now since been abandoned or at least in decline and all that typically remains are coal refuse, spoil piles, and streams heavily polluted from mine drainage.  One such area, the 410 square mile Slippery Rock Creek Watershed, was documented by the Commonwealth’s Operation Scarlift to be one of the most seriously degraded watersheds within the state of Pennsylvania.  The most heavily impacted area of the watershed lies in the 27-square mile headwaters where about 4,000 acres are underlain by underground mine workings and 8,000 acres included in surface mine permits.  Many of the residents refer to Slippery Rock Creek as “Sulfur Creek” referring to acidic metal bearing mine drainage that has so severely impacted the creek.

However, in 1994, the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition was formed through a volunteer effort by citizens, private industry, schools, government agencies, service groups, and others who live and/or worked in the area to restore the watershed through public-private partnership efforts and using passive treatment systems which are environmentally-friendly, low cost, low maintenance, and sustainable.  Since 1994, they have installed 12 passive treatment systems, successfully treating over 500 million gallons of mine drainage per year from 16 discharges, removing about 150 tons of iron, 8 tons of aluminum, and 182 tons of acidity annually from Slippery Rock Creek.  That is enough iron and aluminum to make approximately 150 trucks and 273,000 aluminum cans each year!!!!!!  In addition about 100 acres have been reclaimed to productive farms or wildlife habitat and over 10 acres of wetlands have been constructed.  The water quality is improving and fish have been observed in the watershed where they have not been seen in over a 100 years.

The Coalition currently has six projects under construction or development, most of which will be completed by this years end.  These include De Sale Phase II, Goff Station, North Liberty, SR81, SR89, and SR96.
Project Name Project Description
De Sale Phase II Restoration Project 200 gpm designed flow passive treatment system consisting of stream intake, Forebay, 2 Vertical Flow Ponds in parallel, Settling Pond, 1.5 acre Wetland, and Horizontal Flow Limestone Bed treating a low ph, highly acidic Fe-Mn-Al laden discharge.
Goff Station Restoration Project Passive Treatment System abating 5 discharges with an average total flow of 385 gpm consisting of 4 Vertical Flow Ponds, Flush Ponds, Settling Ponds, and 4 acres of naturally-function aerobic wetlands removing 12,600 lbs/year of metals.  In addition 78,000 CY of abandoned coal refuse removed and neutralized with circulating, fluidized-bed coal ash.  Also includes creation of a unique bat hibernaculum, the first of its kind known east of the Mississippi.
North Liberty Project consists of reclaiming over 40 acres (30 acres of spoil piles) of abandoned minelands back to productive farmland through liming pit areas and regarding land back to pre-mining conditions including steep and dangerous 50 ft. highwalls located within 250 ft of a historic farmhouse.  The project also includes pumping and treating 10,000,000 gallons of highly pollutive water lying within 15 acres of open pits.
SR81 System is currently under design, but will consist of an Anoxic Limestone Drain, Settling Pond and Wetland.  It will also include 2,000 CY gob pile removal and reclamation of an abandoned surface mine utilizing fabricated soils.
SR89 This system will be built on Game Lands 95 to treat an abandoned mine discharge directly entering Slippery Rock Creek.  The system is currently under design, and will consist of a Vertical Flow Pond and Wetland system.  Due to the close proximty of the discharge to the stream and the lack of adequate drop, a unique collection system and Vertical Flow Pond will be installed.
SR96 System is currently under design.  It will consist of an Anoxic Limestone Drain and other facilities.

For more information about the Coalition and its projects check out the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition’s web site at or by clicking on the above links to the respective project.

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