Results and Accomplishments
In order to remove this toxic source of pollution from the watershed, a passive treatment system was constructed. The project, completed in October 2004, treats the Webster Mine Discharge by piping the water from the mine under State Route 471 and Pergrin Run and into the treatment system. The 19-acre system was designed to treat a flow of 450 gallons per minute. The water flows into two settling ponds which filter the water through a mixture of limestone and mushroom compost. This process adds alkalinity to the water, raising the pH level to close to neutral (7.0). Raising the pH causes the dissolved metals in the water, primarily iron and aluminum, to “drop out” of the water in the ponds. Next, the water flows into the “finishing” wetland which completes raising the pH. The water, now able to sustain aquatic life, is discharged into Pergrin Run which flows into the South Branch of Blacklick Creek just downstream of the treatment system.
The improved water helps to benefit the local communities of Nanty Glo, Twin Rocks, Vintondale, Dilltown and Blacklick. These are all old coal mining communities which were devastated by the loss of jobs when the mines closed. Now the communities must endure “orange, sulfur-smelling” water. The improvement of the water has made the area more attractive to outdoor recreationists and has resulted in new enterprises -- such as the Ghost Town Trail -- which has contributed to the economic and social recovery of these rural communities.