1991 - Relocation of Lower Rausch Creek
At the request of DER/Pottsville Office, Westwood Energy, Inc., Lower Rausch Creek was redirected around the large silt dams on their property. Thus eliminated the large quantities of coal silt from washing into the creek during storm events and snow melt.
1994 - Stumps Run Reclaimation Project #1
Reclaimation of the largest source of coal sediment pollution. Stumps Run, a tributary of Lorberry Creek, meandered through abandoned coal siltation basins which were remnants of Lincol Colliery. During storm events and snow melt, the stream flowed extremely black with coal sediment exceeding concentrations of 1615 ppm. Due to the size of the area in need of reclaimation and lack of funding, the area was broken down into 3 projects. This project addressed the major pollution area. Lehigh Coal & Navigation regraded and removed silt, revegetated, and installed erosion and sediment controls on a 12.2 ac. (4.9 ha.) in lieu of $40,000 in fines which were assess by the DEP/Pottsville District Mining Office. Upon completion of this project, the suspended solids load in the stream has not exceeded 20 ppm.
1995 - Stumps Run Reclaimation Project #2
This project was also a reclaimation-in-lieu-of-civil-penalty project and it addressed an abandoned siltation basin adjacent to Project #1 which drained to Lorberry Creek upstream of Stumps Run. The drainage also carried a high sediment load. Harriman Coal Corporation regraded and removed silt, revegetated, and installed erosion and sedimentation controls on 8.2 ac. (3.3 ha.) in lieu of $41,175 in fines which were assess by the DEP/Pottsville District Mining Office.
1996 - Stumps Run Reclaimation Project #3
This project was also a reclaimation-in-lieu-of-civil-penalty project completed by Lehigh Coal & Navigation in lieu of $50,000 in fines. The 4.0 ac. (1.6 ha.) area is below Project #1 and Stumps Run runs through it. The area was graded, revegetated, and the erosion and sedimentation controls were installed. In addition, further work was done to improve upon the Project #1 area.
Since 1994, the Pottsville Mining District has planted trees and wetland vegetation annually for Earth Day. The work has served to further stabilize the area. Wetlands are now established in the sedimentation ponds.
These three projects, which reclaimed 24.4 ac. (9.8 ha.), have shown the most dramatic improvement in the watershed. Black water events have been a very rare occurrence on the Lorberry Creek in recent years. Stumps Run now helps to improve the water quality of Lorberry Creek.
1995 - Swatara Creek Diversion Wells
Two diversion wells were installed on Swatara Creek 3 mi. (4.8 km) from the creek's origin, on the north side of Rt. 209 east of Newtown. The water quality of the creek indicated that pH adjustment was necessary. There are a few AMD discharges (i.e. 'Hegins Run') that enter Swatara Creek upstream of the diversion wells which are remote and inaccessible. The natural low pH of this stream allows the metals to remain in solution and carry for long distances. When the diversion wells are working properly, they increase the pH in the stream by 1 to 1.5 units. Several unique modifications have been introduced to make maintenance easier.
This project was to be done with EPA 319 funds in 1996, however a local businessman offered to fund the project in honor of his father, who was an avid fisherman. Since the project began, it has turned into a community project and has involved over 50 citizens, businesses, and agencies. It can be seen from Rte. 209 and sparked enormous local interest. This project paved the way for the formation of the Northern Swatara Creek Watershed Association, which was formed in January of 1996.
1996 - Diversion Well on Martin Run
This diversion well is onstalled in the village of Donaldson on the north side of Route 125. Martin Run us made up primarily of 2 abandoned mine discharges, Colket minepool and the Eureka Tunnel. Martin Run is a tributary of Goodspring Creek. The quality shows a need for pH adjustment and metals removal. The topography does not allow for cost effective treatment of pollution sources. The diversion well increases the pH 1 to 1.5 pH units. The metals precipitate in the stream channel. The work was completed with the EPA 319 funds and volunteer efforts from the PA National Guard and loval citizens.
1996 - Study of treatment plants and current water quality of Swatara Creek
A cooperative effort between the USGS and DEP to evaluate the effectiveness of the various limestone treatment devices installed on Swatara Creek. The project is titled "Limestone Treatment of Acidic Mine Drainage in Headwaters of Swatara Creek, Schuylkill and Lebanon Counties, PA." It is a multi-year effort in which four continuous water quality stations were established to evaluate the individual treatments in addition to their comulative effects. This project has received funding through EPA 104 for 1996, 97, and 98.
1997 - Limestone Channel on Swatara Creek
To increase the pH on the Swatara Creek upstream of the diversion wells, a limestone channel was constructed upstream of 'Hegins Run,' less than a mile from Swatara Creek's origin. The channel was constructed using EPA 319 funds.
1997 - Anoxic Limestone Drain on tributary to the headwaters of Swatara Creek
An anoxic drain was contstructed on an unnamed abandoned mine drainage discharge at the headwaters of Swatara Creek. pH 4.0, Fe 9.0 mg/l The anoxic drain was constructed with EPA 319 funds, donated assistance and materials from the Commonwealth Environmental Services, a landfill which was being constructed at that time. The project was designed by USGA and numerous testing features were added to allow monitoring and maintainance. The project has shown a marked improvement in the water quality at the discharge and three miles downstream at the diversion wells. This project seems to be very effective and the most maintainance free of all the "passive treatment systems."
1997 - Pollys Run Project
This project is actually stream bank stabilization and rechanneling work on Swatara Creek .25 miles (.4 km) downstream of the Swatara Creek Diversion Wells in the vacinity of Swatara Coal Company. Durin heavy flooding in January 1996, Swatara Creek washed away large quantities of coal silt from a portion of the stream bank and deposited it much of it in a wetland area just downstream. The creek braided and a portion of it pooled and leached heavy metals as it seeped through coal silt into a canal which drains into Pollys Run. The project included 700 ft. (213.4 m) of stream bank stablized and rechanneling of Swatara Creek along with revegetation of the area. The projects prevents the possibility of a future sedimentation event and prevents water from Swatara Creek from entering the canal. The project was done with funding from EPA 319 funds.
1997 - Lorberry Junction Wetland Project
This project is located in the interchange of I-81, Exit 32, Ravine (also know as Loreberry Junction) on PennDOT property. Two shallow water impoundments were constructed to serve as an aerobic wetland treatment of AMD on Lower Rausch Creek. There are several abandoned mine discharges which enter Lower Rausch Creek at various locations. The project treats all of Lower Rausch Creek near the mouth, thus treating all of the discharges collectively. The wetland cells total 2.3 ac. (.93 ha). This project was completed in December 1997. The current water quality shows a pH 6.3, Fe 3 pp,, Mn 1.5 ppm. The goal of this project is to reduce metals pollution entering Swatara Creek from Lower Rausch Creek. This project was funded partially by EPA 104 and fines that were assessed against Pine Grove Landfill by DEP/Bureau of Waste Management. All of the constuction work was done by DEP/Bureau of Abandoned Reclaimation. Additional materials and equipment were donated by local industries. This project involved cooperation from numerous agencies and industries. It is very visable to the public and it will serve as an eduational area as well as a treatment facility.
1998 - Development of treatment for Rowe Tunnel discharge, Lorberry Creek
This project is a cooperatvie effort between the US DOE, USGS, DEP, and the Schuylkill County Conservation District to develop a treatment system on the Rowe Tunnel discharge which is the main flow in Lorberry Creek. Rowe Tunnel is one of the two major sources of AMD pollution in the watershed with an average flow greater than 3,000 gpm moderate levels of iron and acid. To treat the discharge will require pH adjustment, aeration, filtration, or a combination of one of these methods. A detailed characterization of the water is necessary to determine the most effective method. A prototype will be developed and tested. Iltimately full scale treatment systems will be installed. The work is being funded by EPA 319 grant and matching funds from USGS and DOE.
1998 - Swatara Creek designated as an EPA 319 National Monitoring Program Project
The USGS proposal titled Evaluation of Passive Treatment of Acidic Mine Drainage in Headwaters of Swatara Creek, Schuylkill and Lebanon Counties, Pennsylvania has been accepted as an EPA 319 National Monitoring Program Project. It is the first National Monitoring Program Project in the county that is focused on mine drainage and the land treatment practices needed to restore the water quality. The project will continue some of the water monitoring efforts currently ongoing that are listed above, including the monitoring gage in Ravine. The project will continue from 1998 through 2001. The data from this effort will be very important for the Swatara Creek State Park Lake project/ The evaluation of the data and the cumulative efforts of the various treatments will be very useful in development of a treatment strategy on various streamas in the Anthracite Region.
1998 - Reconstruction of a Stream Channel near the John Behm Tunnel
An unnamed stream that previously flowed into an abandoned stripping pit, west of Donaldson and north of Rt. 125, is now restored to the surface where it will flow to Goodspring Creek. A 360 foot limestone channel was constructed to convey the pring fed stream to the surface resulting in a reduction of watering entering the minepool. The project was done using EPA 104 funds.
1999 - Construction of the Swatara Cooperative Trout Nursery
On June 15th the Swatara Cooperative Trout Nursery officially began operations. Approximately 2000 Brook Trout, 1300 Rainbow Trout and 100 Golden Trout were delivered by the PA Fish and Boat Commission. The fish were hatched at the Benner Springs location. The average length on delivery was 4.5 inches. The summer was a challenge for the fish with little rain and excessive heat. Fortunately, the mortality was been low. The water temperature never exceeded 68 degrees F. Water flow dropped to 60 gpm and has remained steady ever since. The fish did not showed signs of stress and no supplemental aeration was required. On Decemeber 5th, 1999, 190 trout averaging 9 inches in length got a new home in the Sweet Arrow Lake.
Potential Redemption and Reclaimation Projects
The efforts to improve the water quality of Swatara Creek will continue for years to come. There are major remediation and reclaimation projects scheduled for the next five years that will impact the water quality directly and indirectly. Some of the projects listed below already have funds appropriated and should be completed in the near future. The other projects are in the design stage and may be completed contingent on available funding.
Funding Year/ Project Name/ Subwatershed/ Cost /Funding
1998-1999 Lorberry Creek Remediation (Rowe Tunnel) Lorberry Creek $87,000 EPA 319
1999 Diversion of the Tracy Airhole Discharge Goodspring Creek - -
1999 Middle Ck. Stream Rehabilitation Middle Creek $1,400,000 AML/Set Aside
1999 Donaldson 1 Backfilling Goodsping Creek $750,000 AML/Set Aside
1999 Indian Head Passive Treatment Middle Creak $250,000 AML/Set Aside
2000 Red Mountain Backfilling UpperSwatara Creek $140,000 AML
2000 Donaldson 2 Backfilling Goodspring Creek $750,000 AML
2000 Newtown South 1 Backfilling UpperSwatara Creek $200,000 AML
2000 Colket Discharge Passive Treatment Goodspring Creek $250,000 AML/Set Aside
2000 Clinton-Tracy Passive Treatment Middle Creek $250,000 AML/Set Aside
2000 Clinton Discharge Passive Treatment Middle Creek $250,000 AML/Set-Aside
2001 Tremont North Backfilling Middle Creek $630,000 AML/Set Aside
2001 Blackwood West Backfilling Upper Swatara Creek $1,250,000 AML/Set Aside
2002 Donsaldson 3 Backfilling Goodspring Creek $1,000,000 AML/Set Aside
2002 Newtown South 2 Phase 1 Backfilling UpperSwatara Creek $250,000 AML/Set Aside
2002 Newtown South Phase 2 Backfilling Upper Swatara Creek $280,000 AML/Set Aside