Thursday, January 25, 2024

DEP Awards Susquehanna River Basin Commission $68.2 Million To Restore Severely Impaired Tioga River Watershed

On January 23, the
Susquehanna River Basin Commission announced it has been awarded $68,255,481 through the Department of Environmental Protection’s federally-funded Abandoned Mine Lands and Acid Mine Drainage Grant Program to construct a mine drainage treatment plant in the Tioga River Watershed

The plant will remedy severe acid mine drainage (AMD) from historic coal mining that pollutes the Tioga River, and the benefits will expand far beyond the restoration of a single waterway.

The funding was part of a January 17 announcement of $101.1 million in federal grants to support local abandoned mine-related restoration projects.  Read more here.


Five AMD discharges in the headwaters of the Tioga, near the towns of Blossburg and Morris Run, are the major sources of pollution to the river. 

The discharges are of such high flow and poor quality that 20 miles of the river are listed as impaired by PADEP, and many of those miles are devoid of fish.

SRBC hired Kleinfelder Engineering to design the plant, a step which is nearly complete. 

The project will resemble a wastewater treatment plant, but instead of treating sewage it will treat AMD. 

The five discharges will be collected at their sources and piped to the plant. Treated water will be returned to the Morris Run and Fall Brook stream channels before making its way to the Tioga River. 

This process will restore not only the Tioga River but both tributaries. 

Nearly 11 miles of pipelines will be required for the collection of polluted water and the delivery of clean water.

The grant will pay for the construction of the plant, which is estimated to take approximately 18 months. 

Operations are expected early 2026, and its effects will be felt immediately. 

The first rainstorm will push fish from many of the clean tributaries into the Tioga River where they will begin to recolonize. 

The Fish and Boat Commission is planning to stock trout in the newly-treated Tioga River near Blossburg. 

A partnership led by the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy has plans to install fish habitat structures along Island Park in the town.

A healthy river will bring restored recreational fishing, providing increased business opportunities to the watershed. 

Homeowners along the Tioga will see an increase in their property values as lifeless, orange waterfronts become clear, healthy flows. 

The benefits will cascade downstream, specifically to the Tioga-Hammond Lakes. An unpolluted Tioga Reservoir means the Hammond Reservoir will no longer need to be elevated to raise the water quality of water flowing from the dam. 

This frees-up nearly one billion gallons of water that can be released when there are low flow conditions downstream, providing increased water for businesses, recreation and healthy stream levels.

Visit the SRBC’s Tioga River Restoration webpage and Tioga River Abandoned Mine Drainage Treatment Plant Project storymap for more information.

Click Here for the complete announcement.

For more information on programs, training opportunities and upcoming events, visit the Susquehanna River Basin Commission website.  Click Here to sign up for SRBC’s newsletter.   Follow SRBC on Twitter, visit them on YouTube.

Next Federal Grant Round Open

DEP is now accepting applications for the next round of federally-funded local AML/AMD Grants.  The deadline for applications is February 19.

DEP has also set deadlines for two other rounds in 2024-- June 3 and September 23.

Visit DEP’s Local AML/AMD Grant Program webpage for all the details.

Related Article - Federal AMD Funding:

-- DEP Awards $101.1 Million In Federally-Funded Grants To Support Local Abandoned Mine-Related Restoration; Deadline For Next Round Of Grants Feb. 19  [PaEN]

Related Articles - Watersheds:

-- PennVEST Invests $194.3 Million In 28 Water, Wastewater, Stormwater, Water Quality Improvement Projects In 20 Counties  [PaEN]

-- DEP Awards $573,000 To 10 Projects To Protect Delaware Estuary Coastal Zone; $268,000 To 5 Projects To Protect Lake Erie Coastal Zone  [PaEN]

-- National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Now Accepting Applications For Delaware Watershed Conservation Fund Grants; Webinar Jan. 30; Project Coaching  [PaEN] 

-- Chester County Commissioners Approve New Integrated Water Resources Plan, Watersheds 2045  [PaEN]  

-- Mountain Watershed Assn. Files Petition To Designate Parts Of Donegal Township Unsuitable For Coal Mining In Westmoreland County  [PaEN] 

-- Penn State Extension - Farm Conservation Success Story Series: First Stop Westmoreland County - John Kitz's Mount Pleasant Farm  [PaEN] 

-- Save The Dates: Forest Health In-Person Briefing, March 12; Virtual Forest Health Briefing, March 14; Forest Snapshot; More! [PaEN]

[Posted: January 25, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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