The tireless work of a handful of volunteers is starting to make an impact on the water quality in the northeastern end of Cambria County.

Two acid mine drainage cleanup projects spearheaded by the Clearfield Creek Watershed Association already have started to have a positive impact on the badly polluted Little Laurel Run, a tributary of Clearfield Creek.

“It’s really bad water with a pH of less than 3,” watershed member Art Rose said Friday.

Rose, of State College and a member of the watershed group, was on hand for unveiling of the projects at an open house just off Route 36 south of Ashville.

Several dozen people went on tours of the projects, which include Klondike Project 1 and 2 and the Ferris Wheel Project, a short distance away.

At the two Klondikes, an underground mine abandoned since the 1950s releases what was described as a moderately large flow of acidic and iron-bearing water.

Nearby, a small flow of highly acidic and iron-bearing water flows from a strip mine last operated in the 1960s.

Rose, along with fellow civil engineer John Foreman of Altoona, designed the passive-treatment systems, which involve a series of treatment ponds.

In both of the Klondike projects, a series of ponds begin pulling the iron from the mine drainage with final treatment a pond with compost and limestone.

The water, which showed a pH of 3 as it left the mine, flows into Laurel Run with a pH of more than 6.

The lower the pH number, the more acidic the water. A pH of 7 is neutral, neither acidic nor alkaline.

Funding for the work came largely through a $600,000 grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Other sources provided smaller amounts.

These mine discharges are just a few of those polluting the streams in the area, watershed members said.

But the organization, formed eight years ago, takes a psychological approach said Secretary Jerry McMullen.

“We see it as just one little step at a time,” he said.

The Ferris Wheel Project is a 30-acre area strip mined about a half century ago. Because of the acid rocky soil it continues to lack vegetation.

The watershed group, with help from the Robindale Energy Co. and the Blair County Solid Water Authority coupled with a $77,000 state grant, is adding organic matter to the soil along with alkaline matter and planting a wide variety of trees donated by the state.

Trees have been planted on 12 acres of the site.

Trending Video

Recommended for you