On May 26, 2023, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced funding for 16 environmental restoration projects on abandoned mine lands, totaling $7.8 million dollars.
These projects, which are being funded as a result of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), primarily focus on the reclamation of abandoned mine land (AML), abatement of acid mine drainage (AMD) through reclamation, and/or treatment of AMD through the construction, operation, and/or maintenance of an AMD treatment facility.
“Restoring these minelands and streams is a critical part to improving Pennsylvania’s environment and growing our economy. Every penny we invest into projects like these results in a better Pennsylvania for all of us,” said DEP Secretary Rich Negrin. “These newly approved projects are just the first of many that are now possible as a result of the new IIJA funding, and we are going to continue to put these dollars to work in Pennsylvania.”
The new AML/AMD Grant Program that began in the fall of 2022 will continue with three more application rounds in 2023. A total of at least $96 million total for the year is available under the 2023 AML/AMD Grant Program, with at least $32 million available to award in each of the three grant program rounds. In addition, any unused funds from the previous grant program round for the year will roll over to the next program round.
The AML/AMD Grant program prioritizes:
- Reclamation of serious human health and safety problems resulting from abandoned coal mines;
- Reclamation or AMD treatment that will continue restoration efforts that were identified or begun under the AMD Set-a-side Program;
- The operation and maintenance needs and/or upgrades of existing AMD treatment systems where the failure to do so will result in loss of restored stream miles; and
- Significant measurable water quality improvements that will contribute towards watershed restoration.
The following projects were announced:
Treating the abandoned mine drainage (AMD) discharge that is impacting Chalfant Run is the
first step in a broader scope of plans provided by the Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) to restore
the Chalfant Run Watershed. ALT will gather data to be used in the design of a passive
treatment system to be located on the Churchill Valley greenspace. Upon completion of the
Project, the AMD discharge will be treated prior to entering the stream and act as a central
point for visitors to the greenspace and will allow ALT to move on their plans of streambank
stabilization and restoration of three miles of Chalfant Run before entering the tributaries of
Thompson Run and Turtle Creek.
The reclamation design of four abandoned mine land (AML) features, located along the access
road to Johnstown Inclined Plane and the proposed Sliver Park area, will be completed. The
reclamation design will include: recapping a vertical mine shaft, installing a permanent bat gate
over a mine entry, and stabilizing a rock highwall and an existing haul/access road. The future
reclamation of the AML features will allow for public access to existing and proposed
recreational trails as well as access for maintenance of the Johnstown Inclined Plane.
Hawk Run (Moshannon Creek/Osceola Mills Treatment Development)
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC) will be assessing three areas of mining
impact, which are thought to be the main drivers of abandoned mine drainage loading within
the Osceola Mills area. The Hawk Run discharge and others which impact Sulfur Run by
adding large amounts of acidity, iron, and aluminum will be reviewed and considered for
treatment. As a result of the assessment, a plan will be developed convey the discharges to
convey to a centralized treatment plant site near the Borough of Osceola Mills.
The Project includes the design of a water main extension for 13 residential homes in Beccaria
Township. The extension has been requested by Beccaria Township residents due to
concerns of onsite well degradation and poor water quality caused by abandoned mine lands.
The water main will be extended along Cross Roads Boulevard for approximately three miles
and along Utahville Road for approximately one-half mile.
Newton Southwest (MR7/MR8 Reclamation & Treatment)
To provide maintenance to the Morgan Run 8 passive treatment system necessary to continue
effectively treating acid mine drainage (AMD) and to construct Morgan Run 7, currently an
experimental passive treatment system, treating a partial flow of MR-7A, the primary AMD
source. Construction of a full-scale system will be completed as a part of the Project to fully
treat four separate AMD discharges impacting Morgan Run.
Robbins Hollow (Swamp Area PTS Rehab)
Routine maintenance of the Swamp Area passive treatment system will be performed to
assure proper function of the system and continued treatment the Twomile Run, a Class A
Trout Stream. The maintenance will include improvements to the access road, cleaning the
collection and conveyance methods, replacing limestone in the drainable limestone beds,
replacing and or patching liners and organic material in three vertical flow ponds (VFP),
cleaning and deepening the treatment wetlands, clearing unwanted vegetation, and postconstruction monitoring.
Porcupine Hollow I (Lime Dosers)
Includes three years of continued operation and maintenance of two lime silos treating two
acid mine drainage discharges impacting Dents Run. The operation of the silos has helped
restore six miles of Dents Run from Porcupine Hollow to the Bennett Branch Sinnemahoning
Creek. Dents Run is now labeled a Stocked Trout Water and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat
Commission (PFBC) has been stocking the stream since 2019. Discontinuing operation and
maintenance of the silos will result in losing the environmental improvements to Dents Run
and a loss of $280,620 per year in recreational use as reported by the PFBC.
Phillips North (Phillips Discharge Project Development)
An initial assessment, data collection, and conceptual reclamation design of up to 16 miles of
affected streams in the Redstone Creek Watershed will be completed. The objective of the
Project is to characterize baseline contaminant loading and physical controls of the associated
source mine pool(s) and identify candidate sites and conceptual design for the future
construction of an active abandoned mine drainage (AMD) treatment plant that would
eliminate over 4,000 gallons per minute of AMD into Redstone Creek and Rankin Run, both
tributaries of the Monongahela River.
Melcroft (Treatment System Rehabilitation Design)
To complete a redesign of the existing Melcroft passive treatment system (PTS). The Melcroft
PTS was originally constructed, as part of a larger project, to lower the associated deep mine
pool for safety reasons and treat the discharge before allowing it to flow to Champion and
Indian Creeks. The PTS has been successfully treating the discharge for nearly 12 years but
is recently declining in effectiveness due to the inability to effectively rehabilitate the system.
The redesign will incorporate newer technologies successful in passively treating mine
drainage to continue to effectively treat one mile of Champion and Indian Creeks.
West Scaffold Lick (Scaffold Lick Run Assessment)
This project will fund an updated assessment and implementation/restoration plan by McKean
County Conservation District of up to 520 acres of abandoned mine land and abandoned mine
drainage features that will be the basis for future reclamation and water treatment projects for
over 16 miles of affected watershed and a cumulative 1,800 linear feet of existing dangerous
highwalls in Norwich Township.
Oneida West (Oneida #3 Second Limestone Tank)
The Project will provide continued treatment of the Tomhicken and Catawissa Creek
Watersheds to include treating 4,000 gallons per minute of acid mine drainage emitting from
the Oneida #3 discharge. The continued treatment of these Watersheds will help to remove
over two miles of stream from the “impaired waters list.”
Murdock (Kimberly Run)
Conemaugh Valley Conservancy will complete a localized watershed assessment to determine
eligibility of abandoned mine drainage seeps and abandoned mine land features for future
development work. The assessment will include a thorough monitoring program, archived mine
mapping reviews, and an updated biological survey along Kimberly Run in Somerset
Bullion South (Venango County Implementation Plan)
The development of an implementation plan to guide future remediation project proposals in
the Scrubgrass Creek and South Sandy Creek Watersheds. Objectives of the Project include
the collation of existing abandoned mine land (AML) and abandoned mine drainage (AMD)
information, development of a spreadsheet and mapping-based inventory of AML and AMD
features, confirmation atonal water quality sampling, development of a project prioritization
method, identification of possible remediation projects and funding mechanisms,
recommendation of potential Project sponsors, and collaboration with local watershed
associations, county and state government, and public and private stakeholders. The result of
the Project will guide the Venango County Commissioners and their conservation partners in
facilitating future AML and AMD reclamation and remediations efforts.
Muse (Cecil Township Municipal Park)
The reclamation design and required permitting of a 26-acre abandoned mine land site in Cecil
Township will be completed through this Project. Once designed, a future phase of the Project
includes the reclamation and development of the property for commercial use in order to
provide new jobs in the local and surrounding community.
Crabtree (Pumping & Treatment Alternatives)
An additional and more comprehensive study of the Crabtree Discharge will be completed.
This study will be used to expand the understanding of the geologic, hydrologic, and historic
mining conditions underlying the discharge and any connections to the Jacks Run Discharge
located approximately 7.4 miles to the southwest. The information gained will be used to issue
a final report to thoroughly vet the most promising treatment options and locations to access
and treat the discharges. Successful treatment of the Crabtree and Jacks Run Discharges will
have a direct impact on over 9 miles of stream, over 8 acres of the Loyalhanna Reservoir, and
the Jacks Run/Sewickley Creek Watershed to the south.
Newlonsburg South #1 (Lyons Run Passive System)
Construction of a passive abandoned mine drainage treatment system to collect three acidic,
high iron and aluminum contaminated discharges. The construction will include a successive
alkalinity producing system (SAPS), flushable limestone beds, settling ponds, and treatment
wetlands. As a result of the construction, the ecosystems in the upper portion of Lyons Run will
be recovered and ecological function and aesthetics will improve in the Lyons Run and larger
Turtle Creek watershed.
An additional 5 projects from the 2022 Round of the AML/AMD Grant Program have been recommended for funding from the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) Program but cannot yet be announced due to additional vetting required by the Federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (AMLER)
In his budget address, Governor Shapiro made clear he rejects the false choice between protecting jobs and protecting our planet. He believes we can do both – we can embrace the Commonwealth’s role as an energy leader, create good- paying jobs, and fulfill our constitutional obligation to protect Pennsylvania’s clean air and pure water.
Photo of acid mine drainage in a stream courtesy of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.