Nearly $1 million in state grants will address mine drainage and storm water in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s Turtle Creek Watershed association plans to assess the areas where abandoned mine discharges pollute the creek and its tributaries. This will help qualify for additional funds to clean up the waterways.
The association received a $75,560 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, according to Tribune-Review. This is one of nine Growing Greener grants totaling nearly $1 million awarded to address mine drainage and storm water issues in Westmoreland County.
The grant the watershed association received was one of 20 projects in Southwestern Pennsylvania that received more than $2.7 million in Growing Greener money to clean up waterways. The recipients of the grants have up to three years to implement the projects.
The grant will help cover consulting fees, equipment and expenses needed to complete a study and seek approval as a qualified hydrologic unit, reported Tribune-Review.
The association will need to look at more than 300 impairment sources that negatively impact streams in the watershed, with a mine drainage discharge underneath Alfieri Scrap Metal Co. at the top of the list. It pumps iron into Brush Creek, a Turtle Creek tributary, at an estimated rate of 6,000 gallons per minute, or 360,000 gallons each hour, according to Robert Cronauer, watershed program manager for the Westmoreland Conservation District, reported the Tribune-Review.
The Irwin discharge affects about 38 miles of waterway downstream and low pH levels of between 5.5 and 6 have been recorded near the discharge, which allows iron oxide to be displaced from the abandoned mine walls.
The study could take a year to complete and the watershed group may have to investigate other funding sources as well.
The Westmoreland Conservation District received the remainder of the Growing Greener grants in Westmoreland County, working with local partner municipalities or organizations.
“This is the first baby step in a gigantic process that would have a massive impact on cleaning the water,” said Turtle Creek Watershed Association board member Jason McCabe.