We have identified over 130 discharges from abandoned coal mines in the 125 square mile Indian Creek watershed. Our Comprehensive Plan has shown that treating the 11 worst discharges in the watershed will clean up 95% of Indian Creek. We have constructed six passive mine drainage treatment projects so far with two additional systems under construction or in the planning phase. Every $1 spent on restoring the watershed will result in a return of $2.40 in increased income from tourism.
Max B. Noble Mine Drainage Remediation Project
Also known as Sagamore, this project is named after the now-deceased owner of the land where the project is located. This project was the first undertaken by MWA. The system consists of the collection of two underground mine discharges from the abandoned Sagamore Coal Company’s Big Chief Mine and the relocation and reclamation of a 70,00 cubic yard gob pile. This system also includes two windmills, designed to add oxygen to the water in order to cause the iron to drop out faster. The treatment system now removes about 87% of the iron load, 70% of the aluminum load, and 61% of the acid load.
The Perma-Press is so named because it treats a discharge with very little iron. The discharge now treated by this system flows from a reclaimed strip mine at a rate of 20 to 35 gallons per minute. The discharge is very high in aluminum (23 mg/L) and acidity (150 mg/L). The system is designed to raise the pH of the water to about 7.0 so that the aluminum may precipitate or settle out. A limestone bed is used to raise the pH, and the bed is automatically flushed every 32 hours to discharge the aluminum into a settling pond. The Perma-Press system was completed in June 2005.
The Gallentine Project is a passive treatment system located on six acres of land between Indian Head and Normalville. It treats an acidic discharge which formerly flowed into Indian Creek. The system was recently redesigned because within months of the completion of the original system a blow-out in the mine significantly altered the chemistry of the discharge, reducing treatment of the discharge to 50%. The redesigned system was completed in August of 2008 and consists of two vertical flow ponds and two settling basin. It is expected to remove 262 lbs. of acid, 97 lbs. of iron, and 6 lbs. of aluminum each year.
Anna and Steve Gdosky Indian Creek Restoration Project
This 10 acre project treats what is known as the Kalp Discharge (at left), responsible for over 40% of the total pollution load in the Indian Creek watershed. This discharge produces over 184 million gallons of acidic mine water every year. This water previously entered Indian Creek, carrying with it about 76,800 lbs. (38.5 tons) of iron along with other metals. Because of its impact to adjacent homes, properties, public highways, and the potential for a mine pool blowout, this mine pool was long been recognized as a health and safety problem. Our treatment system was completed in Fall of 2007, is currently cleaning up over 8 miles of the main stem of Indian Creek. The total price tag for this project was $3.4 million.
Melcroft Abandoned Mine Drainage Treatment System
This is the newest of our passive treatment systems and is located in the village of Melcroft in Saltlick Township, Fayette County, along Melcroft Road. The system remediates the abandoned Melcroft No. 3 coal mine and drainage from the abandoned refuse pile improving the water quality in Champion Creek and Indian Creek. In addition to treating the mine discharge the Melcroft Treatment System features a half-mile recreational walking path around the treatment system. The path is open to the public. The Melcroft Treatment System was completed in 2011 at a cost of approximately $839,000.