Water Briefs

Dec. 1, 2009
Construction has begun on a mine drainage treatment facility that will restore aquatic life to the upper reaches of one of America’s most polluted rivers ...

Mine Drainage Treatment Plant to Improve River Water Quality

Construction has begun on a mine drainage treatment facility that will restore aquatic life to the upper reaches of one of America’s most polluted rivers and improve the economic outlook for the entire region, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The Lancashire #15 treatment plant will improve water quality in at least 35 miles of the West Branch Susquehanna River. It will treat up to 10 million gallons per day of acidic water from the abandoned 7,100 acre Lancashire #15 mine complex. Currently, the river is losing this water because the Lancashire #15 mine pool is pumped, treated and discharged to the Ohio River Basin on the other side of the mountain. This prevents the mine pool from rising to an elevation where it will drain into the West Branch.

The influx of fresh water into the basin will counteract the effects of numerous acidic discharges in the headwaters, restoring aquatic habitat to an estimated 35 miles of the river and improving water quality as far downstream as the Curwensville Lake in Clearfield County.

In addition, the added water will help make up for the estimated 15.7 million gallons that agricultural operations use in the middle and lower Susquehanna Basin, extending the benefits of this treatment plant as far downstream as the Chesapeake Bay.

The facility will go online by the fall of 2011. It will pump water from the mine, treat it with hydrated lime to remove metals, and raise the water’s alkalinity before it is discharged into the river.

The plant’s construction will be financed by Pennsylvania’s Acid Mine Drainage Trust Fund, created with funds set aside from the federal Abandoned Mine Lands Fund.

Company Completes Design Phase of Cooling Tower Water Recovery System

Solarbrook Water and Power Corporation’s CEO announced the completion of the design and prototype study phase of a water recovery system to be used on cooling towers.

“The system will recover water traditionally sent to the sewers, and will remove dissolved solids and contaminates which result in lost cooling efficiency within the cooling tower system. Treated water will be returned to the tower as clean makeup water.

“Advantages of this system are reduced water consumption, reduced wastewater surcharges, and fewer chemicals going into the wastewater systems resulting in an environmentally green solution. The system will be ready for several trials involving industry, and commercial systems in this calendar year,” stated George Moore, President and CEO.

Washington State Places New Limits on Industrial Stormwater

The Washington Department of Ecology has placed new limits on pollution in stormwater runoff from industrial facilities, affecting approximately 1,200 permitted facilities across the state.

New changes under the state’s new industrial stormwater permit reduce how much copper and zinc the industries can have in their stormwater discharges.

“We know that meeting these new permit requirements in the real world will be a challenge for some facilities and we will provide technical assistance,” said Kelly Susewind, who manages Ecology’s water quality program.

Ecology collaborated with both environmental and industrial interests before it wrote the new permit, he said.

Ecology will hold workshops in January educating people about the new permit requirements. It will publish new stormwater sampling guidance and industry-specific guidance.

For more information, visit the Industrial Stormwater General Permit Web site: www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wq/stormwater/industrial/index.html.

EPA Seeks Comment on New Permit for Animal Feeding Operations in Idaho

The public is encouraged to review and comment on a new proposed Clean Water Act permit that would affect animal feeding operations in Idaho. If enacted as proposed, this permit, issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will regulate discharges to surface waters from many Idaho feedlots, including those on tribal lands.

The new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Discharge Permit has the potential to affect many Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). An NPDES general permit is required by the Clean Water Act for CAFO facilities that discharge or propose to discharge manure, litter, or process wastewater into streams, lakes or other surface waters.

The general permit would allow a CAFO operator to discharge to surface waters only if they are in compliance with the general permit.

Changes from the current regulations would affect production areas where animals are confined and where animal feed and waste are contained; and land application areas where manure or wastewater are spread and used as fertilizer.

Also, under the new permit, in addition to the standard notice of intent required for a permit, CAFO owners and operators must submit a nutrient management plan for review. EPA will then review the notice of intent and nutrient management plans and make them available for public comment and review before granting coverage under the permit.

The comment period is expected to run through mid January.

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