Here at SRI, we work on a variety of projects related to watershed restoration. Check out the examples below.
Watershed plans are tools to help understand, conserve, protect, and restore a watershed. There are different types of plans depending on the needs and goals for the watershed or the requirements of the funding agencies. Often, funding agencies will require that a certain type of plan be completed before they will provide grant funds for a project so that they know that sufficient background data has been collected and that there is a good “plan of attack” to achieve your goals. For example, a Watershed Restoration Plan (also known as Watershed Implementation Plan) is exactly what it sounds like. It is a written plan that outlines the priorities and strategies needed to restore the watershed that can be thought of as a “road map” to a healthy stream. As part of the process, mapping, water quality data and other related information is gathered. Then additional water sampling of streams and sources of pollution is conducted. Next, all of the data is organized and analyzed to determine the priority ranking of each pollution source and to develop the strategies needed to address those sources of pollution. The plans also typically include cost estimates of projects, mapping, and photographs.
Example Watershed Plans
Water treatment is an important part of restoring streams that are polluted by acid mine drainage and has been a primary focus of Stream Restoration Incorporated since our founding. We have worked with a variety of partners to install both passive and active (chemical) treatment systems. Passive treatment uses gravity flow and natural materials like limestone, compost, wood chips, plants and bacteria in ponds and channels to manipulate the environmental conditions and encourage natural chemical, biological, and physical processes to occur. Active treatment uses chemicals and often requires power to mix, aerate, and move the water to be treated.
Example Water Treatment Projects
When working to restore a watershed, it is often necessary and beneficial to make efforts to reclaim old abandoned mine sites. Often times water filled pits, highwalls, spoil piles and coal refuse piles were left in place that can be very dangerous and contribute to water pollution. The pits and highwalls are eliminated by filling and regrading dirt and rock left in the spoil piles. Sometimes the coal refuse can actually be removed and taken to specialized power plants that can burn the waste coal and to turn it into electricity. The alkaline ash can then be take back to the mine site to neutralize the acid soils and help vegetation to grow.
Example Land Reclamation Projects
Stream Restoration Incorporated is a nonprofit composed primarily of scientists and engineers whose primary purpose is to help people restore their damaged streams. Over the last couple of decades, we have gained a lot of knowledge and experience related to passive treatment design, construction, and maintenance so why not use it to help others. If you need help, contact us by phone or email.
Through our Passive Treatment Operation & Maintenance Technical Assistance Program, we have helped over 30 different organizations to maintain, fix, or redesign more than 50 passive and active treatment systems. In addition, through a grant provided by the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, we evaluated the performance and maintenance needs of approximately 60 passive treatment systems in the Kiski-Conemaugh River Basin.
Example Technical Assistance Projects
Datashed, which was developed in 2002, is a free, web-based, GIS-enabled database that was originally developed to provide a tool to assist watershed groups, nonprofits, volunteers, students, industry, and government agencies in the operation and maintenance of passive treatment systems and manage their watershed restoration efforts. Datashed provides a central location so that anyone with internet access can view/access/download a whole variety of documents, design drawings, maps, photographs, water quality data, etc. This access allows the website to function not only as a data management and operation and maintenance tool, but also as part of the education/outreach effort associated with the project. Each passive treatment system or stream project has its own unique “web page” and address. Watershed groups can, therefore, either reference these web addresses or create links from their own website directly to their projects on Datashed where all the information for that particular project can be stored.
Every year billions of gallons of acid mine drainage (AMD) are treated just in Pennsylvania alone. The treatment of the AMD results in the creation of millions of pounds of treatment sludge. Resource Recovery is the concept of removing metals from the sludge that forms during treatment of the AMD and repurposing this material for a beneficial use instead of disposing the sludge into a landfill. Stream Restoration Incorporated (SRI) has been pursuing methods of recovery and the development of markets for these recovered metals for nearly twenty years, but has not yet been successful in establishing a sustainable market. Potential uses include pigments for pottery glazes, tints for cement and brick, tine/textures for paint, dye for fabrics. There may even be a use for them to treat water or be used in various industrial processes. It may even be possible to process the sludge to extract Rare Earth Elements (REEs) that are used in electronics, sustainable energy technologies, chemical catalysts, etc. If you would be interested in developing a partnership for large scale recovery and economic use of AMD sludge, please contact us.
Education and Outreach
Education and Outreach is an important aspect to any nonprofit organization in order to “Get the word out” about the issues and their efforts to address those issues. Stream Restoration Incorporated maintains several websites and has helped to write, create and/or publish a variety of publications such as the book Accepting the Challenge. In addition, SRI works with students of all education levels, conducts tours of projects, provides volunteer opportunities and regularly participates in conferences and meetings. For many years, SRI was one of the lead partners in organizing the annual Ohio River Watershed Celebration.
While not part of our original mission, in recent years, we have been asked to help address problems with streambank erosion. These are sites where excessive erosion occurs at a fast rate and can often be attributed to human activity. To fix these problems, a combination of traditional and bioengineering techniques are used to reinforce the bank including grading, stone toe protection, livestakes, brushlayering, rootwad revetments, and erosion control blankets.
Grant Writing & Administration
While certainly not the most exciting aspect of our work, grant writing and administration is a critical part of completing watershed restoration projects. One of the reasons that Stream Restoration Incorporated was originally founded was to obtain and administer grants for small, grassroots, watershed organizations like the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition. Over the last 20+ years, we have successfully been awarded over a 100 grants from local, state, and federal government agencies and private foundations that have provided over $15 million dollars for watershed restoration, technical assistance and education/outreach projects.