Management Options Report
Acid Mine Drainage
Coal mining and processing is a major industry in the watershed. Most of the coal is extracted through deep mining of the Pittsburgh and Sewickley seams. Figure 8 shows the distribution of mined and unmined Pittsburgh coal located in the watershed area.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission has designated most of Dunkard Creek as a Smallmouth Bass/Sunfish stream. However, a 10.8 km (6.8 mi.) portion of Dunkard Creek located from 1.0 km upstream of the SR 2008 bridge in Taylortown, PA, downstream to the mouth has been designated as polluted. Physical characteristics of this section of the creek such as limestone geology and a forested stream corridor lessen the overall impacts of acid mine drainage. Although this buffering capacity of Dunkard Creek keeps the water column near neutral, the quantity and quality of acid mine drainage is greater than the stream can assimilate. The substrate near the acid mine discharges is covered and cemented by iron precipitate and is practically devoid of aquatic life. In September of 1998, 1,752 fish were found dead on a 2 mile stretch of Dunkard Creek below the Taylortown Bridge. A large acid mine drainage discharge is suspected to be the cause of the large fish kill.
The PA Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) conducted a Priority Water Body Survey in 1984 (Rider 1985). The report investigated the Chapter 93 Water Use Designation of Warm Water Fishes. The survey data indicated this use was attained from Mt. Morris to Taylortown and could be attained from Taylortown to the mouth in the absence of acid mine drainage (AMD).
PADEP estimated in 1994 that $66,690 in recreational use of Dunkard Creek is lost per year due to the degradation of acid mine drainage (1994 DEP 305(b) Report). It is for these reasons that we chose to focus on the lower section of the watershed for the management options of this issue.
Eight large acid mine discharges were located around the Taylortown-Bobtown area of the watershed. These discharges were sampled by Waynesburg College's Chemistry Department. The points on Figure 7 with the "COL" prefix are the AMD discharges.
Distribution of Mined and Unmined Pittsburgh Coal
Acid mine drainage site 2 is probably the largest of discharges in the watershed. It begins at two large mine openings located on each side of a small valley located in Taylortown, PA. These photos show both mine openings.
From the two mine openings shown on the previous page, the discharge travels approximately 100 feet to the waterfall shown above and then directly into Dunkard Creek. The photo below shows Dunkard Creek ABOVE the discharge.
The photo above shows the downstream portion of Dunkard Creek below site 2. Compare this photo to the upstream photo on the previous page. There is a very distinct change in water quality due to this discharge. The photo below shows site 6 located near Bobtown, PA. This discharge contains high concentrations of aluminum.
The photo above shows site 7 located above the SR 2011 bridge near Newtown, PA. Below is a downstream shot of this discharge. Notice the milky, white aluminum.
Site 8 originates at this mine opening located just downstream of site 7 along SR2011. The discharge flows through a culvert under SR2011 and continues into Dunkard Creek as shown in the photo below.
Because of the steep slopes and the proximity of the discharges to the stream, these discharges will be very challenging to treat. An option we are in the process of looking at will be to pipe the discharge to an area where a passive treatment system can be implemented. Passive treatment of coal mine drainage has been shown to be an effective, low-cost, low-maintenance alternative to active treatment at abandoned mine land sites. These passive systems are designed to treat the mine drainage for a long period of time, usually 20 to 40 years.
Three passive systems are being considered for these discharges. They are aerobic wetlands, anoxic limestone drains (ALDs), and SAPS (successive alkaline producing systems).
Aerobic Wetlands
Aerobic wetlands can only fully treat water that is net alkaline. These wetlands can effectively remove iron from net acidic mine drainage if the water would be net alkaline in the absence of manganese.
Aerobic wetlands are designed to promote oxidation, precipitation, and settling of iron and manganese oxyhydroxides. To promote oxidation, small waterfalls or rip-rap channels may be constructed to increase the oxygen transfer rate. The depth of water in most of these systems is only 10-15 cm. This promotes additional oxygen transfer and allows plants, such as cattails, to flourish. One of the major functions of the plants is to slow the flow of water, which promotes settling of the metal precipitates, and to discourage channelization.
Anoxic Limestone Drains (ALDs)
Anoxic limestone drains solely function to add alkalinity to the mine drainage, changing net acidic water to net alkaline water. Concentrations of dissolved ferrous iron and manganese pass through ALDs unchanged. These metals must be removed in an aerobic wetland constructed to treat the net alkaline ALD effluent. ALDs are limited to waters that contain no aluminum or ferric iron. Aluminum has been shown to precipitate within the drain, significantly reducing permeability. Ferric iron will precipitate on the limestone surface, reducing its dissolution rate.
At many of the sites where ALDs are effective, the raw mine water contains some alkalinity but is still net acidic due to high levels of ferrous iron and/or manganese. This type of water is ideal for ALD treatment. In order for water to contain alkalinity, the pH must be greater than 4.5. This pH precludes the presence of significant concentrations of dissolved aluminum or ferric iron. However, in order for the ALD to be effective, it must add enough alkalinity to the mine drainage to subsequently neutralize the acidity that will be generated by iron and manganese precipitation in the aerobic wetland.
Successive Alkalinity-Producing Systems (SAPS)
These systems consist of three layers: limestone, compost, and standing water. A perforated pipe network is placed within a limestone layer. Above the limestone is a 0.5 m layer of compost and 1 - 2 m of free standing water. The mine water is forced down through the compost and limestone. Sulfate reduction reactions occur in this compost layer. Compost removes dissolved oxygen and reduces ferric iron to ferrous iron in the mine water making the water appropriate for contact with limestone. As with an ALD, an oxidation/settling pond or aerobic wetland is required after the mine water flows through one of these systems. Unlike an ALD, these systems can be used in succession to the degree necessary to develop net alkaline conditions.
Trash Dumps
Three large illegal roadside trash dumps are present along Dunkard Creek around the Bobtown, PA area. Refer to Figure 5 for exact location. Unfortunately, these dumps are located on very steep hillsides along the creek. These hillsides provide a very scenic overlook of the creek.
Probably the main reason these roadside dumps have developed is due to the lack of a landfill nearby. People have no place to take their large household garbage such as old refrigerators, furniture, etc. The municipalities in the area do not sponsor any type of annual clean up days. A management option for this issue would be to convince municipalities to sponsor a clean up day in the spring and fall.
Once this has been established, we can begin to try and clean up the three large roadside dumps. This is going to prove to be difficult and costly due to the steep slopes the dumps are found on. One option would be to use a drag line to pull the garbage up the hillsides. Physical labor could also put a dent in the dumps but this could prove to be dangerous.
The photo above shows Dump A located along TR341 between Bald Hill and Mt. Morris. Dump B located along SR2025 near Bobtown is shown below.
Dump C located along SR2008 near Bobtown, PA.
Erosion and Sedimentation
It is the nature of streams to change their course. Erosion of streambanks is a natural part of this process. It is the nature of people living near streams to attempt ways of stopping this process, because they enjoy the recreational and aesthetic benefits of their association with the waterway, but wish to minimize the hazards. This natural streambank erosion process can be accelerated through human interaction and land uses in the watershed.
Livestock operations within the watershed impacts streambank erosion and thus causes sedimentation. Most of these operations are located in the upper watershed. Much of this degradation that occurs can be corrected by the implementation of best management practices such as streambank fencing, agricultural crossings and riparian buffers. Various partners like The Natural Resources Conservation Service, Conservation Districts, California University and the landowners will be offering these programs. The management option would be to assist landowners (both agricultural and non-agricultural) in implementing Best Management Practices and heighten awareness via education.
Streambank erosion such as this located near Blacksville, WV is much more common in the upper portion of the watershed.
Erosion and sedimentation runoff from dirt and gravel roads is a major contributing factor to sedimentation in the watershed. Approximately 130 miles of these road types lie within the watershed winding through the steep ridges and valleys. Pennsylvania has a program available to eliminate sedimentation into streams from dirt and gravel roads. Working with the Conservation District, municipalities can receive grant money to stabilize problem areas. The management option would be to increase participation and thus implementation of this program.
Promote Awareness of Stream
On November 14, 1995, the Dunkard Creek Watershed Association was formed. It is made up of citizens from the bi-state region determined to improve the quality of water within Dunkard Creek, improve its recreational opportunities, enhance its economical potential, and increase the quality of life the citizens desire. The Watershed Association is headquartered at the Mason-Dixon Historical Park located on the Pennsylvania-West Virginia line.
The Dunkard Creek Watershed Association will take on promoting the awareness of Dunkard Creek. The Watershed Association has already started promoting the stream by holding events such as float trips on Dunkard Creek. One option that was discussed was to put information concerning the stream on the internet. The Watershed Association will also be a clearinghouse for the historical data on the watershed. Other future activities may include wildflower walks as well as 3 to 4 day field trips.
Raw Sewage
Raw sewage has become less of a problem recently in the watershed due to the upgrade or addition of sewage treatment facilities in populated areas such as Mt. Morris, Blacksville, Brave and Bobtown. Generally, the sewage treatment plants in the Dunkard Creek Watershed are well maintained and operated and are in compliance with permit conditions. Faulty on-lot septic systems are present throughout the watershed but have not really been pinpointed by the sample data. The management option for this issue will be to investigate and identify areas within the watershed that have malfunctioning on-lot sewage systems and determine their impacts on the stream.
Water Quality
For the most part, water quality in Dunkard Creek upstream of Taylortown can be characterized as good. Although there are pollution contributions from malfunctioning on-lot sewage systems and agricultural runoff, these contributions do not appear to alter the stream to the point of impairment. However, in the lower 6.2 miles of Dunkard Creek, acid mine drainage is degrading the water quality so severely it is devoid of all aquatic life. Acid mine drainage, raw sewage and erosion and sedimentation are all issues of water quality. Therefore the management option for those issues would take care of the water quality issue.
Promote Heritage and Recreation
This issue is similar to promoting the awareness of Dunkard Creek. Again, the Dunkard Creek Watershed Association will be taking on the task of this issue. They have already begun by stocking the creek with trout near the Mason-Dixon Park and allowing anglers to fish them out. They also will be promoting float trips. There is a need to locate and record undocumented archaeological sites located within the watershed. This can be taken on by volunteers or through the Dunkard Creek Watershed Association.
Dunkard Creek provides anglers with excellent fishing holes like Pigeon Hole (shown above) located near Bald Hill, PA.
Another option would be to establish trails and greenways along the creek. This could be taken on by the Conservation Districts.
Time Frame for Management Option
The Dunkard Creek Watershed Association is presently taking care of the issues of promoting awareness of Dunkard Creek and promoting heritage and recreation. They have been stocking a section of Dunkard Creek with trout to get the fisherman interested in fishing Dunkard Creek. They have been holding float trips on the creek as well. They are in the process of constructing boat access areas along Dunkard Creek. They will continue to address these two issues on a regular basis year round.
The first step in dealing with the issue of trash dumps is to encourage municipalities to start a spring and fall cleanup day in each township located in the watershed. We should begin talking to the municipalities as soon as possible. A clean up day should be scheduled annually in the spring and fall.
Once these cleanup days are scheduled, we can begin tackling the large dump sites shown in Figure 5. The first dump that should probably be addressed would be dump C. This dump is chosen as first because of it's proximity to Bobtown. The public will become aware of our intent to clean up the watershed. This work should begin as soon as the first clean up days have taken place. We will be taking on the task of cleaning these dumps on a yearly basis starting with Dump C then continuing with Dump B the following year and Dump A the year after that.
The treatment of acid mine drainage discharges will probably begin as soon as money becomes available to begin dealing with these sites. The discharge sites will be prioritized by acid loading tons per year. Table 16 lists the acid loadings per site.
We will be looking at treating site 4 first because it will be much easier to access and treat. We will then be looking at the following sites in this order: site 2A-2B, site 7 & 8, site 6, site 3, site 5, and site 1. Sites 7 and 8 will be done together because they are located close together. Site 1 has been recently been backfilled and is not presently discharging into Dunkard Creek. This site will be closely monitored by PADEP to determine whether it will begin discharging into Dunkard Creek again. It will depend on the availability of funds as well as land rights as to when these sites will begin and the actual order that the sites will be treated. These sites will probably be taken on a yearly basis. Table 16 lists the management option for each issue as well as the approximate date the option will be implemented and the approximate cost for each option.
Table 16. Matrix of Management Options.