Jan 03, 2008

Pa. Senator Secures Funding to Improve Stonycreek River Water Quality

Funds directed toward improving AMD passive treatment system on Oven Run

Pennsylvania Sen. Richard Kasunic recently secured additional funding for further improvement to the water quality of Stonycreek River. The funds were directed toward repairs and upgrades on an abandoned mine drainage (AMD) passive treatment system on the headwaters of Oven Run, according to Daily American.

The location, also known as Site A, is part of the $5 million, six-site Oven Run AMD abatement project that was begun in the 1990s. The Oven Run project sites are the primary methods of AMD abatement and alkaline addition in the Stonycreek River watershed and are responsible for much of the watershed’s water quality improvement over the past several years, benefiting the region through increased recreational opportunities and economic improvement, the newspaper reported.

For several years, leaves and other debris clogged the inlet to the Site A site, reducing its effectiveness. Kasunic secured a $20,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development, which allowed the Somerset Conservation District to contract Stoy Excavating to make the required repairs, including a new valve to allow cleanout of the intake structure, and the addition of limestone to one of the treatment ponds, increasing the alkalinity production of the system.

“The repairs and replacement of stone will allow the proper functioning of this important treatment system well into the future,” said Dave Kemp, district watershed specialist, according to the newspaper. “We are pleased to have a continued working relationship with Kasunic on this and other related projects in the areas of watershed restoration because the senator has always taken a serious interest in water quality issues.”

Since the district is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Oven Run systems in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the need to improve the Oven Run site was a high priority, according to the paper. The district worked in cooperation with local watershed groups such as the Wells Creek Watershed Association, Shade Creek Watershed Association, Paint Creek Region Watershed Association, Stonycreek-Conemaugh River Improvement Project and other groups, assisting them with ongoing maintenance of the treatment systems.

The wetland passive treatment systems are the primary reason for the turnaround in water quality in the Stonycreek and Casselman River watersheds. Although these systems have no mechanical parts and operate through designed natural processes, containing no mechanical parts, they each are uniquely constructed and require technical upgrades, alterations, removal of iron sediment and replacement of limestone and compost as well as other adjustments over time.

The Somerset Conservation District has recognized the need for funds dedicated for these tasks and applied for and received funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Growing Greener program to assist in offsetting these costs, the newspaper reported.

Since the need is often greater than the provided amount of funds, officials such as Kasunic and state Rep. Bob Bastian have secured funding for stopgap measures that have proven to be very effective. Earlier this year, Bastian secured funding for improvements at the Metro AMD treatment system in the Casselman River watershed.

The Somerset County commissioners recently committed up to $100,000 to the district for operation and maintenance of AMD treatment systems throughout the county. Additional details on this initiative will be forthcoming later this year, the newspaper reported.