Cleanup Plans for Abandoned Mine Drainage in West Branch Susquehanna Receive Major Boost


Cleanup Plans for Abandoned Mine Drainage in West Branch Susquehanna Receive Major Boost

May 16, 2006


Contact: Amy Wolfe, (570) 726-3118

Cleanup Plans for Abandoned Mine Drainage in West Branch Susquehanna Receive Major Boost

STATE COLLEGE Trout Unlimited (TU) recently received an $81,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to develop the most cost-effective way to improve water quality in the West Branch Susquehanna River watershed.

The grant was announced Friday at the second annual West Branch Susquehanna Restoration Symposium, which was organized by TU. The symposium was co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Western Pennsylvania Watershed Program, and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

We applaud Governor Rendell for his vision and leadership in support of the cleanup of the West Branch, said Amy Wolfe, director of TUs Abandoned Mine Programs. This grant will provide a major boost to the comprehensive restoration effort. We look forward to working with DEP in its leadership role, as well as DCNR, the Fish and Boat Commission and many other partners to improve water quality and ultimately recover hundreds of miles of high quality trout streams.

The drainage from abandoned coal mine sites is the largest source of pollution in Pennsylvanias waterways. Often acidic and laced with toxic metals, abandoned mine drainage degrades drinking water, diminishes aquatic habitat and threatens fish and wildlife. More than 4,000 Pennsylvania stream miles are impaired by abandoned mine drainage, and nearly one-third of those are located within the West Branch Susquehanna River basin.

Fridays symposium featured presentations on recovery of high quality trout streams, biologic indicators of water quality improvement, treatment technology to clean up abandoned mine drainage and mine drainage remediation activities in the region.

This cleanup initiative may well be the largest in the nation, said Paul Swartz, Keynote Speaker and Executive Director of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission. He challenged the group to develop diverse partnerships with members of West Branch Susquehanna communities such as local watershed groups, academic institutions, medical facilities, chambers of commerce, and local, state, and federal agencies to address water quality impairment throughout the West Branch.

In order to expand these partnerships and the good work that is already underway, it is critical that Congress reauthorize the Abandoned Mine Land Program, emphasized Wolfe. Reauthorization will ensure that financing is available for the on-the-ground work that will recover these streams.

Trout Unlimited is one of the leaders in the effort to clean up the legacy of Pennsylvanias abandoned coal mines. The West Branch Susquehanna project is an expansion of TUs successful restoration work on Kettle Creek, where TU has been working with the Kettle Creek Watershed Association and numerous other partners to implement abandoned mine drainage abatement projects in the lower portion of the watershed. In addition, TU recently released a report highlighting the extent of abandoned mine drainage problems throughout the Appalachians, Restoring the Wealth of the Mountains: Cleaning up Appalachias Abandoned Mines.

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Trout Unlimited is North Americas leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with more than 160,000 members including almost 12,000 members in Pennsylvania dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.

Date: 5/16/2006