Slippery Rock Watershed: 20+ Years Of Reclamation, How The Waters Have Improved!

Here’s an update from the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition in Butler County on how 20+ years of mine restoration and acid mine drainage treatment projects have improved the watershed….

In 1995, a gallon of gasoline cost $1.09, Michael Jordan returned to the NBA from retirement, Toy Story was the first ever wholly computer-generated film, the DVD media storage format was announced, Windows95 was released by Microsoft.

In 1995, one sampling location at Seaton Creek, a major tributary in the headwaters, had a pH of 4.5, alkalinity of 7, acidity of 63, total iron of 5.6, and manganese of 15.7.

We’re happy to say times have changed in the Slippery Rock Creek watershed! That same sampling point at Seaton Creek now shows a pH of 7.4, alkalinity of 69, acidity of –54, total iron of 1.0, and manganese of 1.0!

That is some major improvement! Another Seaton Creek sampling point showed a 1995 aluminum level of 6.1 and a pH of 5.2, numbers that have since improved to less than 1.0 aluminum and a pH of 7.1!

Since 1995, 18 passive treatment systems have been installed in the Slippery Rock Creek Watershed, and over 200 acres of mined lands have been reclaimed back to suitable habitat for wildlife!

1 billion gallons per year of acid mine drainage water are being treated by the passive systems of the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition.

Over 760 tons per year of iron are being removed from Slippery Rock Creek, equal to the iron in 760 trucks! Over 55 tons of aluminum no longer enters Slippery Rock Creek, an amount equal to 1.88 million soda pop cans!

Roughly 760 tons per year of acidity is being removed from the creek, the equivalent of 34 tri-axle loads.

Over 15 miles of stream have been significantly improved, with macroinvertebrate and plant life flourishing, and fish returning to sections of stream that haven’t seen them in decades!

Sampling done in 2015-2016 was accomplished as part of the Slippery Rock Renaissance Project, funded by a grant given by DCED Commonwealth Financial Authority and its Abandoned Mine Drainage Abatement and Treatment Program from the Marcellus Legacy Fund (to provide for the distribution of unconventional gas well impact fees.)

Water quality data comparisons from two decades ago show we have come a long way in restoring the health of the watershed!

To see all of the stream data collected in the headwaters of Slippery Rock Creek, please visit Datashed, an online database of watershed related information.

Many of the places sampled along Seaton Creek and Slippery Rock Creek now make use of data loggers, providing a quick and easy way to regularly record water quality information.

Twelve water quality data loggers (also known as sondes) were purchased by the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition through a Colcom Foundation grant and permanently placed throughout the watershed to cover the main stem and all major tributaries.

The data resulting from the use of the data loggers provides valuable and much needed water quality information for monitoring degradation in the watershed by abandoned mine drainage.

As a baseline is developed, significant changes in conductivity may indicate a discharge of pollution.

We are very grateful for our volunteers who are downloading and maintaining the data loggers on a monthly basis. For more information about this monitoring program. Click Here for more results from the program.

(Photo: De Sale Passive Mine Water Treatment System, Butler County, Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition.)

(Courtesy of the Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition, June edition of The CatalystClick Here to sign up for your own copy.)


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Related Stories:

Tim Danehy Recognized With National Reclamationist Of The Year Award

John Dawes Urges Congress To Reauthorize Federal Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fee

June Catalyst Newsletter Now Available From Slippery Rock Watershed Coalition

[Posted: June 9, 2017]


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