Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Montour Run Watershed Assn. Reports New Milk Run Abandoned Mine Water Treatment Plant Now Treating Water In Allegheny County

On July 23, the Montour Run Watershed Association announced the Milk Run passive abandoned mine drainage treatment system began treating polluted water on July 11.
The system, located in North Fayette Township in western Allegheny County, will restore one mile of stream and improve Montour Run for miles by removing an estimated 72,000 pounds of acid and 7,000 pounds of aluminum per year. 
After construction struggled through 18 months of record setting precipitation, polluted AMD that previously flowed unimpeded to Milk Run, a tributary of Montour Run, was directed into the treatment system and is being treated to remove aluminum and acidity. 
Milk Run flows parallel to Mahoney Road and has been polluted for over a century. The discharge, known as MKR3, was the single largest source of acidity and aluminum pollution in the Montour Run watershed. 
This project will further improve the water quality of Montour Run; a fishery stocked by the Fish and Boat Commission and will improve the quality of life for residents and visitors of Findlay, North Fayette, Moon and Robinson Townships and Coraopolis and Imperial. 
The MKR3 discharge had been flowing from an old, abandoned, underground coal mine into Milk Run since the early 1900s. 
Sulfur, typically pyrite, in and around the Pittsburgh Number 8 coal seam oxidizes when exposed to air in the mine. When the oxidized sulfur comes into contact with ground water, it creates dissolved iron and sulfuric acid. 
The acid dissolves additional minerals, including aluminum, found in the clay strata underlying the coal seam. 
When the mine drainage that contains dissolved aluminum is mixed with alkaline or higher pH water, the aluminum precipitates out as a white substance, giving the stream a milky appearance.
The Montour Run Watershed Association has been working with government agencies and officials, private companies and environmental advocacy groups towards the construction of the Milk Run passive treatment system for almost two decades. 
The project is funded by a Range Resources reclamation in-lieu of penalty project ($949,089), the U.S. Office of Surface Mining ($180,000), the S. Kent Rockwell Foundation ($25,000) and the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds ($20,000). 
The Department of Environmental Protection; the Allegheny County Conservation District; the nonprofit Stream Restoration Incorporated; Independence Conservancy; landowners RHP Properties (purchaser of Continental Communities, LLC parcels) and Great Rentals, LLC; and the Washington County Conservation District have also been instrumental in achieving the MRWA’s objective.
BioMost, Inc. of Mars, Butler County, a design-build firm that specializes in passive treatment systems, designed, permitted and constructed the Milk Run treatment system. 
Other than two small solar powered timers and valve actuators, the passive system will require no electricity, no pumps and no operator. 
The design uses natural limestone and gravity to treat the water. This system will restore one mile of stream and improve Montour Run for miles by removing an estimated 72,000 pounds of acid and 7,000 pounds of aluminum per year. 
The construction responsibility and management of the Range Resources’ portion of the funding, liability for the project, and post-construction maintenance was taken on by the Allegheny County Conservation District. 
The Allegheny Conservation District deserves recognition for their unique support, especially the vision of the late Jan Lauer whose leadership and professionalism were instrumental in seeing this project come to fruition. 
The funding from Range Resources mentioned above includes designated operation and maintenance funds of $191,000, held by the Allegheny Conservation District, to ensure the system remains effective for decades to come.
The project would not have been completed without the additional financial support by the U.S. Office of Surface Mining  Reclamation and Enforcement, the S. Kent Rockwell Foundation, and the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds. 
In addition, the North Fayette Township supervisors and staff have been supportive and patient with this effort through the wettest 18 months on record. 
The Montour Rue Watershed Association thanks all stakeholders for their support, including those who had to deal with the construction along Mahoney Road.
For more information on other projects, programs, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Montour Run Watershed Association website.
Related Articles:
CBF: State Needs To Step Up Support For Those Working Hard To Cleanup PA's Rivers And Streams - Harry Campbell

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