Feature - Project Dedicated that Raises Rainbow Trout in Treated Mine Drainage
Over 225 members and partners of the Toby Creek Watershed Association formally dedicated the completed Blue Valley Mine Drainage Treatment and Fish Culture Station last weekend in Brandy Camp, Elk County.
And as if to endorse the project, the gray winter skies were broken by a bright beam of sunlight just as the local Monsignor finished his blessing.
Members of the Association started work on cleaning up mine discharges in the watershed 39 years ago and the
There were over 100 mine discharges in the Toby Creek Watershed at one time, but steady work by the Association, the Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Office of Surface Mining tackled each one to the point where almost all are controlled.
Rep. Sam Smith (R-Jefferson) praised the efforts of the Association for their persistence, noting that his father, who represented the area before him, also worked with the Association to cleanup the watershed.
The iron oxide filled
After additional treatment, the water is circulate through two large tanks with 3,000 fish each. After the water goes through the tanks, it is sent to a pond and then a wetland to finish treatment before being discharged back into Toby Creek.
The facility has been running since October and so far the results are outstanding, raising rainbow trout fingerlings to 10 or 11 inches long in just five months.
“We only lost 23 fish out of 6,000 since October,” said Bill Sabatose, Toby Creek Watershed Association and a member of the Board of the Fish and Boat Commission. “And the fish have been growing much faster than in regular fish hatcheries. That means we can raise more fish in less time.”
The iron oxide taken out of the mine water is dried and the Association is exploring its potential uses as a pigment in paint or ceramics, like other groups have done. They are also looking at the possibility for its use by the local powdered metals industry to make metal parts.
The goal of the Blue Valley facility is to demonstrate that technology used there can be reliably treat mine water and raise fish which the Association and the Fish and Boat Commission hope can be duplicated elsewhere in the state.
The Commission raises about 3.8 million fish for stocking each year, but most of its present fish hatcheries are located on small, high quality or exceptional value streams, which can be significantly impacted by discharges from the hatcheries.
Another example is the Warwick Mountain Fisheries in
Funding partners in the
The only disappointment of the day was that they weren’t letting anyone catch fish!
For more information on the
Special Photo Feature: Dedicating the Blue Valley Facility – PDF
Links: Stocking Little Toby Creek
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