2021 PA ABANDONED MINE RECLAMATION CONFERENCE

"Overcoming Challenges - A Bright Future"

Presentations

We are gathering an excellent list of presentations. Here are several we have approved in no particular order. Please stay tuned for more…

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: “Overcoming Challenges – A Bright Future”, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, Patrick McDonnell

Secretary McDonnell will address issues related to Abandoned Mines in Pennsylvania and the daunting task of cleaning them up especially in a challenging economy.

“Pennsylvania Senate Bill 832: Clean Streams Fund”, Pennsylvania State Senator Gene Yaw

Pennsylvania State Senator Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) is the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 832 that establishes a Clean Streams Fund for the Commonwealth. The fund will be used to protect and restore Pennsylvania’s streams and rivers to stimulate economic growth in our communities and improve the quality of life for all Pennsylvanians. The goal is to establish a new fund dedicated to water quality, specifically focused on mitigating “non-point” sources of pollution, such as agricultural runoff and acid mine drainage, that are diffused throughout the landscape. Funding in the amount of $250 million dollars will be appropriated from federal dollars allocated by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The bill has been referred to the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

VIRTUAL TOUR: Troubleshooting the Tanoma Passive Treatment System”, Jon Smoyer, PA DEP – Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation

This presentation provides a case study overview of the Tanoma Passive Treatment system in the context of trying to determine the true iron oxidation rate and retention time of the system. The Tanoma passive treatment system was constructed in 2000 to treat the Tanoma borehole which is situated directly on the stream bank of Crooked Creek. The Tanoma discharge is large volume alkaline-iron mine drainage with flows often exceeding 2500 gpm and single-digit iron concentrations (7 to 9 mg/L ferrous iron). The passive treatment system encompasses 10.4 acres, of which, approximately 6.7 acres are actual pond and wetland surface area. Despite the large size, utilizing all the space available, and the seemingly benign chemistry the treatment system has always discharged enough iron (1.5 to 2.0 mg/L ferrous iron and 3 to 5 mg/L total iron) to continue to deposit large volumes of iron on the bottom of Crooked Creek below the treatment system outfall. The treatment system is not large enough to oxidize and settle the iron. Iron oxidation kinetics and the subtleties of large volume, alkaline-iron treatment are presented to explain the level of treatment of the system.

“Air Quality Benefits of Mine Land Reclamation Performed by the Coal Refuse Reclamation to Energy Industry”, Jaret Gibbons, ARIPPA

While data exists on water quality improvements provided by coal refuse reclamation to energy plants, as well as coal refuse piles and fires, there is no current information regarding air emissions. For this reason, ARIPPA recently hired consulting firm TRC to develop a study comparing emissions of air pollutants from necessary remediation of existing coal refuse piles to the air pollutants that would otherwise be emitted if there were no operating facilities to remediate them.

The air emissions study will aid ARIPPA in its federal advocacy efforts and help educate the public on the air quality benefits of mine land reclamation performed by the coal refuse reclamation to energy facilities. A final report is expected by September 2021. This presentation will provide an overview of the coal refuse reclamation to energy industry and highlight the results of the air emissions study.

VIRTUAL TOUR: Bear Run Watershed Restoration”, Tom Clark, Susquehanna River Basin Commission

The restoration of Bear Run from the impacts of legacy mining pollution was the first project funded by the Watershed Renaissance Initiative under the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Growing Greener Program. Nine projects were eventually completed within an eight-year timeframe combining deep mine drainage treatment using passive and semi-active technologies, mine refuse removal, and abandoned mine land reclamation projects. Through these works, much of the South Branch of Bear Run and the mainstem of Bear Run were improved enough to once again hold populations of wild brook trout. Work continues in this watershed focused on areas of diffuse surface mine seepage areas through the use of alkaline addition, revegetation, and reforestation projects. The tour will highlight some of the larger projects and discuss were we have been, where we are, and where we plan to go to continue the improvement in this headwater West Branch Susquehanna River tributary.

“A New Approach to Mitigation Banking”, Eric McCleary, Stantec

The use of a mitigation bank for ecosystem restoration is being developed as a pilot demonstration project in Western Pennsylvania to restore streams impacted by mine drainage and acid precipitation. Mine drainage and acid precipitation are problematic throughout Appalachia. In Pennsylvania alone, over 5,000 miles of streams have been impacted by these types of pollution. Mine/acid drainage affects ecosystem health typically by having a reduced pH with elevated acidity and metal levels (principally iron and aluminum). The task of restoring streams affected by mine/acid drainage is daunting, especially with reduced state and federal funding sources. The idea of employing mitigation banks, sponsored by private entities (i.e. industry, developers, etc.), to ecologically offset these types of pollution, as “out of kind” mitigation, has yet to be done through the federal mitigation banking program developed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers.

Lyons Run, in Westmoreland County, PA, along with various other streams in the northcentral portion of Pennsylvania, are the pilot sites for this unique approach to mitigation banking. Installation of strategically placed and relatively low-cost passive limestone treatment units, designed to increase alkalinity and remove metals (where applicable), is the core of this restoration effort. Water quality trading, based on both measurable water quality improvement and carbon increases, provide ecological lift that can be objectively measured and traded to offset various environmental impacts. This approach is receiving favorable support from the State of Pennsylvania, federal agencies, and private parties. The use of private funding to establish mitigation banks (as ecosystem banks) to offset unavoidable ecological impacts, accomplished through existing state and federal permitting programs, is attractive to all parties involved. These programs can produce significant environmental benefits, notably wild brook trout recovery. This presentation introduces the concept, explores the development of the pilot project, covers the concerns of the state and federal agencies, presents the current status of the project (anticipated implementation being summer of 2022), and examines how it could be utilized throughout North America as an ecosystem restoration tool.

“VIRTUAL TOUR: Twomile Run”, Bob Hedin & Neil Wolfe, Hedin Environmental

Twomile Run enters the lower reach of Kettle Creek just above the village of Westport in western Clinton County. Abandoned coal mines in the Twomile Run watershed once impaired most of Twomile Run but restoration efforts spearheaded by Trout Unlimited and the Kettle Creek Watershed Association have resulted in the recovery and reconnection of 6 miles of native brook trout stream. Of the nine treatment systems constructed, the Swamp passive treatment system is the largest and is also the most significant due to its severe water quality and upstream position in the watershed. Constructed in 2012 and funded largely by grants from PA DEP and OSM, the Swamp system consists of three vertical flow ponds, two settling ponds and two aerobic wetlands. Raw water entering the system averages 92 gpm with pH 2.99, acidity 437 mg/L, iron 54 mg/L, aluminum 22 mg/L. Average effluent pH is 7.6 with 169 mg/L alkalinity and both iron and aluminum concentrations are less than 1 mg/L. Despite this “high risk” water quality, the system has performed reliably for nine years with minimal maintenance.

“A Case Study to Applying AML Realty for The Lancashire No. 15 Active AMD Treatment Plant”, Patrick Webb, PA DEP

The modern Lancashire No. 15 Active Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Treatment Plant was designed and constructed near a total cost of almost $14 Million Dollars from 2006 through 2012.  The total cost to purchase over 33 acres of surface property and to secure linear and square area perpetual easement agreements was just roughly $96,000.  The $96,000 total cost of property was less the 1% of the total cost of almost $14 Million Dollars to design and construct the modern active treatment plant.  Pat’s presentation will provide an overview of the following realty topics of; Trust Agreements, Tax Cards, Professional Licensed Surveys, Surface and Mineral Property Deeds, Mineral Property Abstract Report, Land Appraisal Reports, Standard Agreements for the Sale of Vacant Land, Purchase of Property, Perpetual Easement Agreements, Title Insurance, and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Projection (PA-DEP) Consent for Right of Entries (CROE) that are otherwise known as temporary construction agreements.  Technical AMD information of the Lancashire No. 15 AMD Treatment Plant is that it continuously pumps, treats, and discharges between 4,000 to 5,000 gallons per minute (GPM) of treated AMD. The treatment plant is designed to operate up to a maximum 7,000 GPM discharge rate. 

“VIRTUAL TOUR: Oneida #3 Treatment System”, Ed Wytovich, EPCAMR; Wayne Lehman, Schuylkill Conservation District

The Oneida #3 Tunnel discharge is located roughly two miles northwest of the town of Oneida in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. The mine drainage tunnel was driven 7,000 feet north of the actual mine to drain the South Green Mountain coal basin mine water to the Tomhicken Creek. The Oneida #3 is the second-largest discharge to the Catawissa Creek with an average flow of 4,000 GPM, a pH of 4.6 SU, net acidity of 15 PPM, total aluminum of 2 PPM, total iron of 0.2 PPM, and total manganese of 0.5 PPM. The passive system has been online increasing alkalinity and dropping out aluminum since 2008.  It is similar to the nearby Audenreid Treatment System but only needed 2 limestone-filled tanks. Due to limited Growing Greener grant funding and increased construction costs, only 1 tank was installed, but the system was built to be expanded when more funding is available.

“Overview of OSMRE’s Pittsburgh Field Office”, Eric Cavazza, P.E., OSMRE Pittsburgh Field Office Director

The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) is a bureau within the United States Department of the Interior. OSM is responsible for establishing a nationwide program to protect society and the environment from the adverse effects of surface coal mining operations, under which OSM is charged with balancing the nation’s need for continued domestic coal production with protection of the environment.  OSM was created in 1977 when Congress enacted the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). OSM works with states and tribes to ensure that citizens and the environment are protected during coal mining and that the land is restored to beneficial use when mining is finished. OSM and its partners are also responsible for reclaiming and restoring lands and water degraded by mining operations before 1977.  OSM is organized with Headquarters located in Washington DC, and three regional offices – the Appalachian, Mid-Continent, and Western Regional Offices. The Regional Offices are composed of Area and Field Offices including the Pittsburgh Field Office (PFO).  The OSM PFO is located with the Appalachian Region and oversees the coal mining regulatory (SMCRA Title V) and the Abandoned Mine Land or AML (SMCRA Title IV) programs in the states of Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. This presentation will provide an overview of the Pittsburgh Field Office including its organization, responsibilities, and functions.

“VIRTUAL TOUR: Broad Top Township”, Joe Mills, Skelly & Loy

This presentation is a short review of 3 passive acid mine drainage systems in Broad Top Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.  The first system, SAO-D14 was constructed in the summer of 2019.  This system is in Sandy Run and treats, on average, 180 gpm of 3.0 pH water that contains a moderate amount of dissolved metals.  The treated discharge from this system has been consistently above 7.0 pH, 50 mg/l alkalinity with dissolved iron and aluminum below detection limits.  The next system, SAO-D5, constructed in 2009, has and average flow of about 70 gpm with a pH of 2.5, acidity of 150mg/l, iron about 7 mg/l and aluminum slightly higher than 12 mg/l.  The treated effluent from SAO-D5 has a pH of over 7.0, alkalinity over 50 mg/l and dissolved iron and aluminum are non-detectable.  The last treatment system that we will look at, SXO-D7, also constructed in 2009, is in the Six Mile Run watershed.  The AMD being treated by this system has a pH of 4.5, acidity of 110 mg/l, iron over 30 mg/l and aluminum 7 mg/l.  The treated effluent enters Six Mile Run with a pH of nearly 7.0, alkalinity of over 20 mg/l and dissolved metals below 0.5 mg/l.  These are three of the 43 passive acid mine drainage treatment systems constructed in the watersheds of Broad Top Township.

“Reforestation of Legacy Mine Land”, Amie Fleming, Quantified Ventures

The Quantified Ventures (QV) team will present on our partnership with Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) and the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities, working on a reforestation pilot project. This pilot is testing the role that ex ante, or forecasted, carbon credits can play in helping finance reforestation, specifically on legacy mine land in Appalachia. Legacy mine lands are lands that have been restored to meet legal requirements, but generally still have heavily degraded soils and forests have a difficult time naturally regenerating. This project will review three main areas of focus:

Examples of Innovative Finance – Quantified Ventures has four practices areas from which we draw inspiration, from leading creative problem solving with partners to hands on experience implementing solutions. We will explore a few key projects that inform our work: 1) The Environmental Impact Bond and 2) the Soil and Water Outcomes Fund. In dissecting these solutions briefly, we can highlight themes of what outcomes based financing can do, and how we are bringing those experiences to bear in the mine land context.

Barriers and Solutions to Reforestation – Impactful reforestation programs, such as the initiatives run by PEC and Green Forests Work (a nonprofit focused on legacy mine land reforestation) seeks to fully recover the ecological degradation to post-mining landscapes. We will highlight the key barriers we’ve identified to reforesting Appalachia and the challenges with scaling existing programs. We will then discuss our approach: carbon based reforestation. 

Leveraging Carbon for Mine Land Reforestation – QV is piloting the sale of ex-ante, or forecasted, carbon credits through the Climate Forward program, on a 500-acre pilot project. We will discuss how the program works, the role of carbon in our program design, and how it enables us to seek private capital as part of our funding strategy. We will also discuss our approaches to date: pursuing both a pilot (~500 acres) and have applied for a large federal grant (RCPP AFA) to reforest 3,600 acres over 5 years.  

“VIRTUAL TOUR: Deer Creek, Clearfield County”, Kelly Williams, Clearfield County Conservation District Watershed Specialist

This presentation is a review of AMD treatment in the Deer Creek Watershed, Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. 

“The Countywide Action Plan- An overview of the planning process, hurdles and expected outcomes”, Joshua E. Glace PWS, CPESC, Larson Design Group & Dr. Jennifer Demchak, WATER, LLC

This presentation will look at the CAP development process, focusing in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties. It will discuss stakeholder collaboration and overcoming barriers to generate a realistic plan for the counties. We will highlight the expected results over the next 4 years. Finally, we will discuss how AMD fits into the county plans and the importance it may play in the Chesapeake Bay model in the future.

“Datashed 3.0 2021 Update1“, Cliff Denholm, Stream Restoration Incorporated

Acid mine drainage (AMD) is one of the largest sources of pollution in Pennsylvania with over 5,500 miles of streams currently impaired.  Across Pennsylvania, watershed groups, government agencies, and other organizations are working to restore these streams by completing land reclamation projects and constructing water treatment systems.  Once these projects are constructed, they need to be monitored to make sure they continue to work properly and identify when maintenance is needed to ensure long-term sustained improvements of water quality. 

To help support these efforts, Stream Restoration Incorporated created Datashed (www.datashed.org), a free, open-source, web-based, GIS-enabled database that functions as a maintenance and data management tool.  The website can store a variety of information related to both individual projects and overall watershed restoration efforts including water quality data, documents, maps, engineering design drawings, treatment technologies, photographs, etc.  Datashed provides an open centralized repository to preserve this important information so that anyone with internet access can view, print, or download.  User accounts are only needed for approved users who will be adding or editing the stored information.  The website provides students, researchers, citizen scientists, and engineers with real data from existing treatment systems to conduct research and improve designs.  Datashed can also be utilized for education/outreach efforts of watershed groups to highlight their projects and provides a certain level of transparency as funding agencies are able to observe the effectiveness of the projects.   The 4-part half-day workshop will provide an update on the status of the newest version of Datashed 3.0, how to use Datashed, how to add data, and interactive learning of the cloud-based system.

Request for Presentations

The conference planning committee is now requesting proposals for presentations. We encourage a wide range of topic submissions, including but not limited to:
• New abandoned mine drainage (AMD) treatment system technologies, tools, and products
• Construction case studies and lessons learned
• Land remediation, reforestation, and reuse
• Water quality monitoring
• Operations, maintenance, and rehabilitation of treatment systems
• Non-profit organization capacity issues
• Community involvement, special events, education, and outreach
• Coal mining history and heritage preservation
• Mapping, drones, equipment, and other helpful new technologies
• Legislative updates and concerns at all levels of government
• Economic redevelopment, health and safety, and quality of life topics
• Climate change, energy, and AMD

In the past, we have had such varied topics as the history of baseball in coal patch towns, prevention of Lyme disease, preserving collieries, computer software designed technologies, reauthorization of the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Fund, economic benefits of reclamation, abandoned mine land issues in Germany and Bolivia, the establishment and support of non-profit organizations, and everything in between. If your topic can be related to what our community does, we would love to consider it for our 23rd annual conference!

If you are interested in making a presentation, please submit an abstract for review. Submissions should be no longer than one page in length and include the presenter’s name, title, and organization. Please also include a 1-paragraph bio for the presenter. Submissions and questions should be emailed to Anne Daymut at anne@wpcamr.org by July 16, 2021.