Acid Mine Drainage Cleanup on Clearfield Creek
The Clearfield Creek Watershed Association is celebrating marked improvements in water quality on Little Laurel Run, a tributary of Clearfield Creek near Ashville. Little Laurel Run was recognized to have extensive degradation by acid mine drainage (AMD) in an extensive survey by the volunteer group in 2003 and was prioritized for improvement. As of now, eight passive treatment systems have been constructed to treat different acid discharges. Most recently, five systems went on line in late 2016 at the West Ferris and Gibson discharges. Recent sampling indicates that the acidity at the mouth of Little Laurel Run has decreased by about 75%. Two additional systems are in planning stage and should clean up essentially all the remaining AMD. Tests show that health of fish and other stream biota in Clearfield Creek downstream of Little Laurel Run has markedly improved.
The passive systems use combinations of limestone and compost in ponds to neutralize the acid and remove iron and other contaminants. Once built, the systems continue to treat for decades with minor monitoring and maintenance. Funding for the construction in Little Laurel watershed amounts to about $2.5 million, derived mainly from the US EPA 319 Program supplemented by PA Growing Greener, Foundation for PA Watersheds, federal Abandoned Mineland Reclamation Fund and other groups including the Cambria County Conservation District and Trout Unlmited, plus extensive volunteer work.
Source: Clearfield Creek Watershed Association