Jennings Environmental Center Mine Drainage Treatment System Celebration A Success

The Jennings Environmental Education Center, Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition and Stream Restoration, Inc. held a celebration of the rehabilitation of the Jennings Passive Treatment System on October 7 in Butler County attracting over 40 people involved one way or another in the project over the last 15 years.

            Located in a Pennsylvania State Park and within the Slippery Rock Creek Watershed, the Jennings site has long been an important demonstration, education and research facility regarding mine reclamation practices and passive, as well as small active. treatment development.

Last year, after 15 years of successful operation, the treatment media of the Vertical Flow Pond was removed, encapsulated on site with Mineral CSA (provided by project partner Harsco Minerals) and new piping and treatment media placed.  The system well outlasted the original estimated 10-year design-life!

Some said that the Vertical Flow Pond proposed to treat acidic, metal-laden, abandoned mine drainage from the old underground coal mine at Jennings would not be successful. 

Nonetheless, the Vertical Flow Pond was completed in 1997, thanks to preliminary research efforts by the former US Bureau of Mines and US Department of Energy, funding from the PA DEP through the US EPA 319 program, and the support by Dave Johnson (former Center Manager, PA DCNR) and other numerous partners.  At the time of writing the final report for the project in 1999, the treatment performance was only expected to last 7 to 10 years. 

Exciting, however, with only two “stirrings” of the treatment media through the years, the Vertical Flow Pond continued to successfully treat the AMD every minute of every day for 15 years. 

Through the unwavering efforts of the Jennings volunteers and others, this performance has been documented and is available at the online Watershed Datashed

After 15 years, however, only a portion of the AMD could pass through the treatment media and, in 2012, both old and new partners came together to restore the treatment performance of the Vertical Flow Pond.

The rehabilitation was made possible due to the following organizations and funding programs: Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s Watershed Cooperative Agreement Program, the Western PA Coalition of Abandoned Mine Reclamation’s Quick Response Program funded by the Growing Greener Program, Harsco Minerals, Jennings Environmental Education Center, BioMost, Inc., Stream Restoration Inc.’s O&M Technical Assistance Program funded by the Growing Greener Program and local citizen volunteers.

The spent media was removed and placed onsite, which included preparation of the placement area (existing mine-soil removed and stockpiled), encapsulation of the old media with alkaline material (Harsco Mineral CSA), and reclamation of the placement area (re-spreading mine-soil and re-vegetating). 

After installing new underdrain piping, fresh treatment media consisting of a mixture of mushroom compost, wood chips, and small-sized limestone aggregate, was then loosely placed in the Vertical Flow Pond, successfully restoring treatment. 

Interesting to note is that a year later, there is little visual evidence of the rehabilitation effort including the spent media placement area which is visible only as a gently sloping grassy mound.   

To pay tribute to the rehabilitation effort and the partnership involved, a celebration was held on October 7 at the Jennings Environmental Education Center. 

Even though the weather was not always cooperative, we wish to thank Wil Taylor, Center Manager, and Margaret Dunn, Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition, who briefly described the site history including the early mining operations and some of the previous and future AMD-related efforts at the site. 

We also wish to especially thank Lori Nygard (Assistant Director, PA Bureau of State Parks), Dale Pinkerton & William McCarrier (Butler County Commissioners), Andy McCallister (Regional Coordinator, Western PA Coalition of Abandoned Mine Reclamation), and Bob Onyshko (Harsco Minerals) for expressing their ongoing support for the project, which reaches about 10,000 people annually through the environmental education programs. 

We also wish to express our gratitude to Dave Hamilton, Ben Owens, and Tom Shope (US Office of Surface Mining, Watershed Cooperative Agreement Program) and John Dawes and Branden Diehl (Foundation for PA Watersheds), which were instrumental in making the rehabilitation project possible.    

To a gathering of more than 40 people, a “hands-on” description of the rehabilitation effort was provided by Tim Danehy, Cliff Denholm, Ryan Mahony, and Buck Neely (BioMost, Inc.).  The staff and volunteers at Jennings were also busy directing attendees to the hearty snacks provided by an anonymous donor and providing walking tours that included the reforestation demonstration plot at the site. 

Celebration Attendees: Dave Johnson, Mark Gaffey, Jim North, Virginia Kautzman, John Kautzman, Ping Chen-Gaffey, Andy McAllister, Anne Daymut, Cliff Denholm, Terri Kromel, Gil Gilson, Lori Nygard, Rachael Christi, Valentin Kefeli, Tim Gillen, Ely Heferle, Mary Bates, Gregory Thetford, Dale Margus, Jammie Kikel, Becky Lubold, Brandi Miller-Parrish, Erick Best, Miranda Crotsley, Dale Pinkerton, William McCarrier, Bob Ohyshko, Tim Danehy, Buck Neely, Ryan Mahony, Bryan Page, Shaun Busler, Larry Walker, Amy Hill, Tyson Martin, Rachel Farkas, Margaret Dunn 

Partners Through Time: Jennings Environmental Education Center, CDS Associates, Inc., BioMost, Inc., Foundation for PA Watersheds, Girl Scout Troops, Grove City College, Harsco, Hedin Environmental, Beran Environmental, Amerikohl Mining, Inc., Jesteadt Excavating, PA DCNR, PA DEP 319 Program, PA DEP Growing Greener Program, PA DEP Knox District Mining Office, Quality Aggregates Inc., Saddle Creek Farms, Shaliston Enterprises, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition, Stream Restoration Incorporated, U.S. Bureau of Mines, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Office of Surface Mining, U.S. Geological Survey, Volunteers, W. PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, Westminster College.

(Written by the good folks at Stream Restoration, Inc.)


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