Mill Creek

Despite the orange color of the pond of water behind him, Pete Dalby explained the benefits of this passive treatment system for acid mine drainage on a tour of different project sites in the Mill Creek Watershed of Jefferson and Clarion counties. One of the purposes of the tour was to emphasize the need for continued monitoring, maintaining and addition of such systems to improve the water quality in the affected area which eventually empties into the Clarion River.

Photo submitted

CORSICA — The steadfast, diligent work of a dedicated group of volunteers was recognized in the recent announcement of an Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Set Aside Grant to benefit study on the Mill Creek Watershed.

Announcement of the $27,580 award to the Headwaters Charitable Trust to develop the designated watershed area as a “Qualified Hydrologic Unit” is welcome news to the volunteers who monitor, test, meet and work to reclaim an area which straddles Jefferson and Clarion Counties and empties into the Clarion River.

Additional funding can be leveraged from the same AMD grant program to allow continued operation of 14 passive treatment systems and aid in developing additional ones to maintain recovered sections on the main steam of Mill Creek and Little Mill Creek.

Earlier this year, members of the Mill Creek Coalition (MCC), which is the volunteer organization, conducted a tour for elected officials to demonstrate the progress made since formation of the group in 1990, and the need for continued watchfulness to prevent reversal of all the hard work, but also to provide new, additional treatment points.

Pete Dalby, president of the MCC, provided each guest with a packet of information including data sheets, maps, aerial pictures and other pertinent documents related to the multi-site field tour through lands which once offered employment to many people in mining and related industries.

Of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, 37 have AMD affected streams, with Jefferson ranking seventh on the lis; thus, continued use, development and maintenance of sites remains an ongoing need.

Two areas of the watershed, Howe Bridge and Old State Route Bridge, have recovered enough to be stocked annually by the PA Fish and Boat Commission with 4,500 trout. Such a factor recognizes the benefit of the projects over the years as some of the sites visited contained large ponds of orange-colored water in the process of being treated in one way or another.

Through the winter, the Mill Creek Coalition, which includes representatives from the Conservation Districts of both Jefferson and Clarion counties, will continue to test water quality and conduct meetings to plan for future action to be taken.

Receiving the grant provides a welcome component to that future planning with all the entities involved in the coalition.

The grant is supported by the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act Fund, which was established to finance reclamation projects on lands scarred by surface mining and its effects.

Of the Mill Creek grant and two others made at the same time in Fayette and Somerset Counties, Pa. Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell said, “DEP is pleased to approve funding to support these partnerships in abandoned mine cleanup efforts. Their work goes a long way to restore and protect the land and water for their communities and the citizens of Pennsylvania.”

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