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After 25 Year Struggle, Babb Creek Is In Position To Be Taken Off Impaired Streams List
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The Department of Environmental Protection this week petitioned to have Babb Creek in Tioga County removed from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of impaired streams, culminating two decades of work to restore a stream that had been dead for more than a century.

A special celebration
 is planned for September 12.

Babb Creek winds through some of the most remote country in northern Pennsylvania, emptying into the Pine Creek in Blackwell, just below the Pine Creek Gorge. Extensive underground and surface coal mining that began around the time of the Civil War fouled the stream, making 14 miles of Babb Creek inhospitable to fish and aquatic life and severely degrading a five-mile stretch of the Pine Creek.

"This is a significant milestone for our continuing efforts to heal the scars left behind by the unregulated mining practices of the past," DEP Secretary John Hanger said. "We have turned a lifeless stream into a thriving sport fishery and improved downstream water quality in the Pine Creek, which further enhances the recreational and economic opportunities for the entire Pennsylvania Wilds region."

Efforts to restore Babb Creek began in 1990 with construction of a diversion well - an experimental new mine drainage treatment technology - at Lick Run by the Babb Creek Watershed Association with technical assistance from DEP and volunteer labor from the Arnot Sportsmen, the National Guard and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Shortly thereafter, a large mine drainage treatment system was constructed at the Antrim #1 mine. A legal settlement required Antrim Mining Co. to construct the facility, and directed money from a tipping fee levied by an associated landfill to reclamation efforts for the Babb Creek.

A host of agencies and organizations including the Babb Creek Watershed Association, the Arnot Sportsmen, the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, Trout Unlimited, DEP, EPA, the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, the DCNR, the state Fish and Boat Commission and the coal industry have undertaken 16 different projects totaling $7 million to restore the stream.

DEP has awarded 11 grants totaling $4.6 million to the Babb Creek Watershed Association including a $428,710 Energy Harvest grant in January of this year to construct a 53 kilowatt microhydro turbine that will be powered by the 1,800 gallon per minute Antrim discharge and will in turn provide electricity to run the mine drainage treatment facility. The excess electricity will be sold, generating approximately $17,000 annually.

Trout Unlimited and the Babb Creek Watershed Association will celebrate the reclamation of the creek with a ceremony and tour of the treatment systems on September 12. For more information,click here or contact Rebecca Dunlap of Trout Unlimited at 570-748-4901, or by e-mail at rdunlap@tu.org.

9/14/2009

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