klondike treatment system

The Klondike Mine discharge drains into Little Laurel Run. It produces highly acidic iron-rich water. This discharge has left much of Little Laurel Run dead and added pollution to Clearfield Creek.

In 2007, CCWA constructed a treatment system to improve water quality. The system removes 20 tons of acidity and 4 tons of iron per year. Other projects are expected to fully restore Little Laurel Run.

Little Laurel Run flows into Clearfield Creek about 2 miles north of Ashville. The headwaters are about 3 miles upstream near the village of Buckhorn. Though the drainage is largely forested and hosts part of State Game Land 184, the stream is highly degraded by acid mine drainage from a number of abandoned surface and underground mines in its drainage basin. No fish or macroinvertebrates are present in the lower 2/3 of the stream, and brown iron oxide coats the stream bed. Acid from Little Laurel Run markedly decreases the alkalinity of Clearfield Creek. For these reasons, Little laurel Run is a target for remedial action by the Clearfield Creek Watershed Association.

About a third of the acid load of Little Laurel Run enters the stream from two discharges of the long-abandoned underground Klondike Mine, which operated in the 1940’s and 1950’s. These discharges are located a short distance downstream from highway PA 36. The Klondike Mine extracted the B coal, and extended up-dip beneath PA 36. After abandonment of the mine, the surface outcrop was stripped. Discharge KL1, from the mine entrance area, averages pH 3.4, with 136 mg/L iron and 386 mg/L acidity at a flow rate of 15 gal/min. Discharge KL2, farther north, averages pH 3.4 with 5 mg/L iron and 51 mg/L acidity at a flow rate of 166 gal/min.

Design and permitting of two passive treatment systems plus restoration of a small stream across the mined area was accomplished with a $12,855 Growing Greener grant in 2004-2007, plus about $20,000 of volunteer work by members and by John Foreman of Altoona. In 2005 we received a $391,512 grant of EPA 319 funds for construction. Bids exceeded this amount, and in 2007 we received an added $59,980 of EPA 319 funds, $100,000 grant from Appalachian Clean Stream funds (US Office of Surface Mining) and $20,000 from the Western PA Watershed Program. Construction is currently underway and is expected to be completed in 2007.

The two systems started treating water in November 2007. The KL2 system releases net alkaline water with low metals. The KL1 system, treating water with very high iron, removes about 80% of the iron and acidity. Modifications and rehabilitation in 2014 attain net alkaline water.

Landowners at the site are the Blair County Solid Waste Authority, the Hite-Dodson family whose ancestors once operated the Klondike Mine and Cooney Bros. Coal Co. These landowners have given their permission for the Watershed Association to conduct this project.