Raccoon Creek Restoration Project

BioMost was responsible for conducting the feasibility study and conceptual designs for the treatment of several large discharges in the Raccoon Creek Watershed. 

Drainage from extensive abandoned underground mines, operational in the early to mid-1900s, in the Pittsburgh coalbed are responsible for significant degradation to receiving streams in the Raccoon Creek Watershed of the Ohio River Basin.  From the late 1960s to the mid 1970s, through the Pennsylvania Operation Scarlift program, abandoned mine discharges were inventoried with restoration efforts targeted on selected sites.  In order to expand and to complement these efforts, since the mid-1990s, additional watershed assessments with long-term monitoring of streams and abandoned mine discharges have been conducted by the PA Dept. of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), Washington Co. Conservation District (WCCD), and local watershed groups including the Raccoon Creek Watershed Assn., Independence Marsh Foundation, and Washington Co. Watershed Alliance.  Since 2000, with assistance from the US Dept. of Agriculture, US Office of Surface Mining, PA DEP and others, these groups have successfully installed passive systems to partially treat mine discharge L2 in the Burgetts Fork Subwatershed and discharge JB2 in the Upper Raccoon Creek Subwatershed.

As part of the ongoing restoration effort, the WCCD, working with CONSOL Energy, received a PA DEP Growing Greener Grant in 2002 to prepare preliminary designs and consider the feasibility of treating two large discharges (P7A & E1) in the Burgetts Fork Subwatershed.  (Discharge P7A issuing from the Patterson Mine averaged about 300 gpm with a 5.6 pH, 90 mg/l alkalinity, and 100 mg/l total iron and discharge E1 issuing from the Erie Mine averaged about 80 gpm, 6.4 pH, 200 mg/l alkalinity, and 65 mg/l total iron.)  In spring 2005, the Washington County Conservation District secured the assistance of BioMost to complete the project.  CONSOL, due to other commitments, was unable to finish the project and was agreeable to this change.  In July 2005, BioMost, Inc. initiated monitoring of the discharges to complement earlier long-term discharge and stream monitoring by John Davidson, PA DEP (retired).  Upon receiving permission from six property owners to access private lands, sixteen piezometers were installed in May 2006 with water levels monitored and water samples collected to aid in determining mine pool characteristics. 

Mine pool elevations as monitored in the piezometers indicate that the barrier between the Patterson and Francis Mines had been compromised and that the majority of the flow at P7A was from the Francis Mine.  Piezometer readings and mine map information also indicated that the Langeloth and Francis Mines were hydrologically interconnected.  During this time, Bruce Leavitt, PG, PE, working with West Virginia University on a grant from the US Dept. of Energy relating to the utilization of mine pools as water supplies for power plants, joined the team as the future Beech Hollow Power Plant (to be located about 5 miles east) was evaluating the pool associated with Mines No. 2 and 3 of the Pittsburgh & Eastern Coal Co. (Pitts #2 and Pitts #3) in the Upper Raccoon Creek Subwatershed.  To combine the mine drainage from the Burgetts Fork Subwatershed with the JB1 discharge issuing from the Pitts #2 mine, there may be the opportunity to transfer, by siphon, water from the Langeloth Mine to the westernmost part of the Erie Mine for withdrawal from the easternmost part in the Upper Raccoon Creek Subwatershed. 

As future treatment costs would be the responsibility of the power plant and as the mine pools could be maintained at a lower elevation, the following discharges and impacts to the receiving streams could be essentially eliminated:    

  • the 200- to 500-gpm P7A discharge from the Patterson Mine,
  • the 0- to 250-gpm L2 discharge from the Langeloth Mine,
  • the 30- to 200-gpm E1 discharge from the Erie Mine,  [An additional 10 to 40 gpm of mine drainage entering a storm drain (E1A) is also expected to be essentially eliminated.]
  • the 400- to 1600-gpm JB1 discharge from the Pittsburgh & Eastern No. 2 & No. 3 Mines (Currently, Stream Restoration Inc. has a grant to partially treat the JB1 discharge passively.) 

If the mine drainage was utilized by the power plant, an estimated total of about 600,000 lbs/yr of acidity and 370,000 lbs/yr of iron would be eliminated from the receiving streams.

Photo Gallery

Mine Pool Elevation Schematic