Reviving Pennsylvania’s Environment: 16 Restoration Projects Funded for Abandoned Mine Lands

EnvironmentImage via Pixabay

PENNSYLVANIA — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently announced funding for 16 environmental restoration projects on abandoned mine lands, totaling $7.8 million dollars. These projects, which are being funded as a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), primarily focus on the reclamation of abandoned mine land (AML), abatement of acid mine drainage (AMD) through reclamation, and/or treatment of AMD through the construction, operation, and/or maintenance of an AMD treatment facility.

“Restoring these mine lands and streams is a critical part to improving Pennsylvania’s environment and growing our economy. Every penny we invest into projects like these results in a better Pennsylvania for all of us,” said DEP Secretary Rich Negrin. “These newly approved projects are just the first of many that are now possible as a result of the new IIJA funding, and we are going to continue to put these dollars to work in Pennsylvania.”

The new AML/AMD Grant Program that began in the fall of 2022 will continue with three more application rounds in 2023. A total of at least $96 million total for the year is available under the 2023 AML/AMD Grant Program, with at least $32 million available to award in each of the three grant program rounds. In addition, any unused funds from the previous grant program round for the year will roll over to the next program round.

The AML/AMD Grant program prioritizes:

  • Reclamation of serious human health and safety problems resulting from abandoned coal mines.
  • Reclamation or AMD treatment that will continue restoration efforts that were identified or begun under the AMD Set-a-side Program.
  • The operation and maintenance needs and/or upgrades of existing AMD treatment systems where the failure to do so will result in loss of restored stream miles.
  • Significant measurable water quality improvements that will contribute towards watershed restoration.
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The DEP – Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation is able to announce the following projects:

Allegheny County:

Chalfant Run

Treating the abandoned mine drainage (AMD) discharge that is impacting Chalfant Run is the first step in a broader scope of plans provided by the Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) to restore the Chalfant Run Watershed. ALT will gather data to be used in the design of a passive treatment system to be located on the Churchill Valley greenspace. Upon completion of the Project, the AMD discharge will be treated prior to entering the stream and act as a central point for visitors to the greenspace and will allow ALT to move on their plans of streambank stabilization and restoration of three miles of Chalfant Run before entering the tributaries of Thompson Run and Turtle Creek.

Cambria County:

Point Stadium

The reclamation design of four abandoned mine land (AML) features, located along the access road to Johnstown Inclined Plane and the proposed Sliver Park area, will be completed. The reclamation design will include: recapping a vertical mine shaft, installing a permanent bat gate over a mine entry, and stabilizing a rock highwall and an existing haul/access road. The future reclamation of the AML features will allow for public access to existing and proposed recreational trails as well as access for maintenance of the Johnstown Inclined Plane.

Clearfield County:

Hawk Run (Moshannon Creek/Osceola Mills Treatment Development)

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) will be assessing three areas of mining impact, which are thought to be the main drivers of abandoned mine drainage loading within the Osceola Mills area. The Hawk Run discharge and others which impact Sulfur Run by adding large amounts of acidity, iron, and aluminum will be reviewed and considered for treatment. As a result of the assessment, a plan will be developed convey the discharges to convey to a centralized treatment plant site near the Borough of Osceola Mills.

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Beccaria South

The Project includes the design of a water main extension for 13 residential homes in Beccaria Township. The extension has been requested by Beccaria Township residents due to concerns of onsite well degradation and poor water quality caused by abandoned mine lands. The water main will be extended along Cross Roads Boulevard for approximately three miles and along Utahville Road for approximately one-half mile.

Newton Southwest (MR7/MR8 Reclamation & Treatment)

To provide maintenance to the Morgan Run 8 passive treatment system necessary to continue effectively treating acid mine drainage (AMD) and to construct Morgan Run 7, currently an experimental passive treatment system, treating a partial flow of MR-7A, the primary AMD source. Construction of a full-scale system will be completed as a part of the Project to fully treat four separate AMD discharges impacting Morgan Run.

Clinton County:

Robbins Hollow (Swamp Area PTS Rehab)

Routine maintenance of the Swamp Area passive treatment system will be performed to assure proper function of the system and continued treatment the Twomile Run, a Class A Trout Stream. The maintenance will include improvements to the access road, cleaning the collection and conveyance methods, replacing limestone in the drainable limestone beds, replacing and or patching liners and organic material in three vertical flow ponds (VFP), cleaning and deepening the treatment wetlands, clearing unwanted vegetation, and postconstruction monitoring.

Elk County:

Porcupine Hollow I (Lime Dosers)

Includes three years of continuous operation and maintenance of two lime silos treating two acid mine drainage discharges impacting Dents Run. The operation of the silos has helped restore six miles of Dents Run from Porcupine Hollow to the Bennett Branch Sinnemahoning Creek. Dents Run is now labeled a Stocked Trout Water and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has been stocking the stream since 2019. Discontinuing the operation and maintenance of the silos will result in losing the environmental improvements to Dents Run and a loss of $280,620 per year in recreational use as reported by the PFBC.

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Fayette County:

Phillips North (Phillips Discharge Project Development)

An initial assessment, data collection, and conceptual reclamation design of up to 16 miles of affected streams in the Redstone Creek Watershed will be completed. The objective of the Project is to characterize baseline contaminant loading and physical controls of the associated source mine pool(s) and identify candidate sites and conceptual design for the future construction of an active abandoned mine drainage (AMD) treatment plant that would eliminate over 4,000 gallons per minute of AMD into Redstone Creek and Rankin Run, both tributaries of the Monongahela River.

Melcroft (Treatment System Rehabilitation Design)

To complete a redesign of the existing Melcroft passive treatment system (PTS). The Melcroft PTS was originally constructed, as part of a larger project, to lower the associated deep mine pool for safety reasons and treat the discharge before allowing it to flow to Champion and Indian Creeks. The PTS has been successfully treating the discharge for nearly 12 years but is recently declining in effectiveness due to the inability to effectively rehabilitate the system. The redesign will incorporate newer technologies successful in passively treating mine drainage to continue to effectively treat one mile of Champion and Indian Creeks.

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