Mill Creek Coalition Acid Mine Drainage Remediation Projects
Filson 4 Site (Jefferson County)
Headwaters has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with the Mill Creek Coalition working as partners on numerous acid mine drainage remediation projects in Jefferson County. Recognizing the need to improve and upgrade a number of the Coalition’s existing passive treatment systems, in 2011 the Trust, on behalf of the coalition, received a PA Department of Environmental Protection non-point source grant under Section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act to upgrade four sites in the Little Mill Creek watershed in Jefferson County. The Trust contracted with Dietz-Gourley Consulting, LLC to provide the engineering design. Construction work was completed on the first three sites (Filson 5/6, Bog and Morrow) by Manno Construction in the fall of 2011, and the fourth one, Filson 4, was completed in 2012 by Groves Excavating. Funding for this project was granted in 2010 and 2011, with $252,041 from the Department of Environmental Protection and $20,300 from the Office of Surface Mining, for a total cost of $272,341.
Jones/Douglass Tributary Project (Clarion County)
In 2012 the Mill Creek Coalition began to direct their efforts to the next troublesome section of the Mill Creek Watershed known as the Jones/Douglass tributary, designated as a strategic priority in the Coalition’s Five-Year Plan. It is the second largest tributary and is about five miles in length and includes approximately 11% of the watershed area. Based on low flow conditions in the fall, Jones/Douglass contributes approximately 15% of the flow into Mill Creek, but is responsible for about 50% of the acidity, iron and manganese, and 85% of the aluminum to Mill Creek.
“TAG” grants were awarded in 2009 and 2010 to Hedin Environmental to take water samples, examine past data, and to provide treatment recommendations for this tributary. In 2012 Headwaters, on behalf of the MCC, was the recipient of a $15,000 grant from the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds to address this tributary (Jones/Douglass). Other project partners include the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy for $3,000 and the Pennsylvania Wildlife Federation for $2,000.
The purpose of this project is to delineate the acreage involved, provide a site survey, document the location of the various parts of the treatment system, and determination of any wetlands. The outcome will be to provide the information necessary for the preparation of a RFP for a final design/construction document.
Orcutt-Smail Acid Mine Drainage Remediation Project (Jefferson County)
Several acid mine drainage (AMD) discharges emanate from the abandoned R.E.M. Coal Company, Inc. Orcutt and Smail Mines (SMP# 33803040 & 33743044) located in Union Township, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania. The discharges are currently treated by passive treatment systems designed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) and constructed in April 2005. The USDA-NRCS design included two separate systems, the South System and North System, to address the different chemistry AMD. The project location is along Smail Road near S.R. 949 approximately 2 miles north of Corsica, PA. Historic monitoring and interpretation of data by the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Mill Creek Coalition indicates the passive treatment systems are in initial stages of failure. Headwaters was awarded two DEP grants for a total of $432,000 in 2008 for the development of a new active treatment system(s). Dietz-Gourley Consulting, LLC is contracted to provide the development of design plan, construction documents and construction monitoring services. Bidding is expected to take place in 2013.
Acid Mine Remediation Projects Photos
Acid Rain Remediation Projects - Elk County
In 2005 a group of private individuals, concerned with the deteriorating condition of streams in Elk County, formed the Elk County Freshwater Association, headed by Jeff Buckheit. They targeted Big Mill Creek as their first watershed due to its value as a local fishery, recreational area, and public water supply. Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) records showed that Big Mill Creek had been steadily deteriorating from long term acidification of the watershed resulting in the loss of wild brook trout fisheries. The problem had become so bad that PFBC was considering discontinuing trout stocking in the watershed. In 2006 ECFA began working with the consultant and Ridgway native Jon Dietz from Dietz-Gourley Consulting, LLC in State College to restore Big Mill Creek through remediation systems involving alkalinity addition to the stream. Over a period of six years, four systems were completed, with Dietz-Gourley designing and overseeing construction with funding provided by a County Environmental Initiative (CEI) grant awarded by the Elk County Commissioners, the Stackpole-Hall Foundation, three DCNR C2P2 grants, and DEP Growing Greener grants. The Allegheny National Forest was also a vital partner in this project.
After the completion of these initial projects, the DEP expressed interest in continuing these efforts, but the Elk County Freshwater group did not have the administrative resources to manage large grants on an ongoing basis and requested that Headwaters take over that responsibility. In 2012 the Trust took over a DEP funded monitoring and assessment of how Big Mill Creek was responding to the treatment system, and also submitted and were awarded the two new Growing Greener grants to pursue additional work in the field of acid mine remediation in the Clarion River watershed. The Clarion River Headwaters project will assess, identify, and develop remediation plans for the acid rain impacts in the upper Clarion River tributaries, and will lead to a series of construction remediation projects. The Smith Run Project, located in the Clarion Headwaters, is an acid rain remediation construction project that will be implemented in that tributary to restore Smith Run and help in the restoration of downstream waters in the Clarion River Watershed.
Matching funds of $65,000 are required to move forward with these two outstanding water quality projects The HCT provides opportunities for corporations, small businesses and individuals to help fund these projects through the Headwaters Conservation Partnership. Our project partners as of April 2013 include Atlas Energy and the EADS Group. This conservation effort is one of the most important ones to arise in the Headwaters region since the founding of the HCT organization and will make a lasting difference to water quality in the region.
Jon Dietz, sampling on Mill Creek
Drinking Water Quality - COLCOM Project 2011-2013
Jim Clark, Penn State Extension at Workshop
|McKean County Participants |
$150,000 was secured in 2011 through the Colcom Foundation's grant program "Marcellus Environmental Fund" for the Headwaters Quality Drinking Water Project to provide low income families in Cameron, Clearfield, Centre, Clinton, Elk, Jefferson, McKean and Potter counties with funding to secure chain of custody water sample analyses of their private water supplies prior to Marcellus Shale Gas Well Drilling activities. Educational workshops were also provided to teach participants how to interpret the water quality results and to explain what a homeowner should do in the event something does happen to their water supply.
A total of 689 water tests were completed for homeowners. A total of 548 people attended one of the eight workshops. A five month follow up survey of the participants was conducted and 155 (75%) of 206 respondents stated they had taken some action related to improving or protecting their private water supply.
Bacterial contamination is one of the major health issues related to private water supplies. The 689 water supplies showed positive numbers for coliform bacteria in 50% of the supplies and 19% for E. Coli bacteria. There were 141 spring supplies tested also, and the springs had the highest rate of bacterial contamination, as was expected, followed by hand dug wells, and finally drilled wells.
To download the summary of water test results by county click here.
Questions on the Program? Contact Brittany Dittemore 814-503-8653