“These streams used to run orange, and to now see clean, clear water underscores the importance of these projects to restore local waterways,” said Secretary McDonnell. “What was once a fantasy to fish and recreate on these sections of Millers Run and Chartiers Creek is closer to reality thanks to the group of dedicated partners gathered here today.”
The treatment plant has eliminated one of the largest impairments to the Chartiers Creek watershed by continually pumping and treating over one million gallons of AMD daily and discharging the treated water to Millers Run.
The treatment plant will ultimately restore four miles of Millers Run and four miles of Chartiers Creek to a warm water, trout-stocked fishery with improved recreational uses. Millers Run is on the Fish & Boat Commission stocking list upstream of the discharge.
The sections of both streams that will be restored flow past a number of parks and development projects and are visible from Interstate 79 in Allegheny County.
“This is a significant improvement for the Township of South Fayette. We have been working to restore this watershed since formation of the group in 2003,” said Stephen Frank, president of South Fayette Conservation Group. “With the help of the DEP’s Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation, we completed the first phase of this project, the Fishing Run restoration and Maude Mine reclamation, in 2009. Now, more than ten years later and thanks to the efforts of many individuals with the group, we finally have a clean stream that runs through South Fayette. We can now turn our focus on securing funds for long-term operation of the treatment system and completing additional projects so that the community can recreate along the banks of Millers Run.”
This active AMD treatment plant utilizes a chemical oxidizer, hydrogen peroxide, to rapidly and efficiently oxidize and precipitate dissolved iron and other metals from the mine water.
Clarification equipment then allows these precipitated metals and other solids to be retained while treated water is discharged to Millers Run. The Gladden plant is designed for a maximum treatment capacity up to 2.1 million gallons of AMD per day.
In addition to DEP, its Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation, and South Fayette Conservation Group, partners on this project include the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, South Fayette Township, Tetra Tech, Inc. (prime contractor), Chapman Corporation, AMD Industries, John Kosky Contracting, Inc., Infinity Drilling, Ligonier Construction Company, GAI Consultants, and the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission.
“The team effort on this project was exceptional and a significant environmental improvement was made to South Fayette Township and Allegheny County,” said Farley R. Wood, P.E., senior project manager and operations manager with Tetra Tech, Inc. “The federal and state funds provided were expediently turned into tangible results for the community that will have a lasting impact.”
The Gladden discharge, which ranges from 750 to 1,500 gallons per minute, originates from the abandoned deep mine of the Pittsburgh Coal Company’s Montour No. 2 underground mining complex.
The plant includes two pumping stations to extract the AMD water from the mine pool and bring it to the surface for treatment. DEP estimates that the plant will remove approximately 690 pounds of iron pollution in the stream per day.
The insoluble iron sludge generated by the treatment process is returned to the mine and placed into sections of the abandoned workings that will not interfere with pumping and treatment operations.
Stream sealing of Fishing Run, which is part of this overall project, is currently in the permitting stage. This aspect of the project is designed to address large streamflow losses due to mine subsidence that enter the abandoned mine and contribute to the volume of AMD.
When completed, the streambed sealing will keep the stream flowing year-round and reduce the amount of AMD requiring treatment.
The final project cost was just over $13 million and came from the AMD abatement and treatment program (AMD Set-Aside Program) authorized in the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) and the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) AML Pilot Program, now referred to as the federal Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) Program, which specifically targets abandoned mine cleanup projects that are linked to local community and economic development goals.
In June 2020, DEP announced the commencement of construction of the facility and, in September 2020, announced supplemental grant funding for this project under the AMLER Program grant.
Federal Reclamation Funding To Expire
This project would not have been possible without federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Funding which is due to expire in September.
Funding for this project comes from the AMD abatement and treatment program (AMD Set-Aside Program) authorized in the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) and the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement AML Pilot Program, which specifically targets abandoned mine cleanup projects that are linked to local community and economic development goals.
The Pennsylvania AML Campaign, a coalition of conservation districts, watershed groups, and other local nonprofit groups also support reauthorization of the AML fee collection.
Visit the Our Work’s Not Done website supported by states involved in the federal abandoned mine reclamation program, including Pennsylvania.
Visit DEP’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program webpage to learn more about this program.
(Photo: South Fayette Conservation Group.)
Related Articles:[Posted: April 28, 2021] PA Environment Digest