The acquisition of a 216-acre property in the Borough of Blossburg (Tioga County) is allowing a project to treat Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD) to move ahead.
The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy (NPC) purchased the property from KLJ Enterprises, Inc. with funding provided by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission. The property will be needed to provide access to two abandoned mine discharges for treatment of the water as part of a larger project to clean up the Tioga River.
“It was an opportunity for us to do something good for the Tioga River. We bought the property as an investment, but who better to sell it to than NPC so it can become part of the Tioga River’s clean-up,” said John Brown, partner in KLJ Enterprises Inc.
Cindy Ridall also a partner in KLJ Enterprises Inc. added, “It was the right thing to do. It will be good for the whole area. Can you imagine what a clean Tioga River will mean for Blossburg and the businesses in town?”
KLJ, Inc. worked with the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy so the funding for the purchase could be secured and plans set in motion for the future ownership of the property. It was a several month process, but the closing happened in early May.
The property, just blocks away from downtown Blossburg, has Coal Creek running through it. The Creek has two discharges from former coal mines flowing into it about a half mile above where the Creek empties into the Tioga River.
Blossburg Mayor, Shane Nickerson explained, “As a kid you knew to wear your old shoes when you were going into the (Tioga) River because whatever you wore in would be orange when you came out. It’s exciting and amazing to think that we’re getting closer to the Tioga being a clean River and Island Park being a place for fishing.”
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection have been working in the Tioga River watershed with the Tioga County Concerned
Citizens Committee for nearly 20 years to clean up the Tioga River. Over the years the team has studied the various mine discharges to understand what types of pollution are being released at that particular discharge and to understand how each discharge impacts the larger, Tioga River.
Charlie and Joyce Andrews with the Tioga County Concerned Citizens Committee helped draw attention to the Tioga River and start conversations about what a clean Tioga River would mean for the communities along its banks and how to start the process of working towards a clean river.
“Each step along the way has had its challenges, and we know there will be challenges yet to come, but to see so much forward progress happening in the last couple of years, and to see the path forward coming into focus feels great,” said Charlie Andrews, President of the Tioga County Concerned Citizens Committee.
Through efforts by multiple partners passive treatment systems have been built on Fall Brook. These smaller systems have improved section of the Tioga River, but the in-design active treatment plant being planned now will restore over 20-miles of the Tioga River, several miles of Fall Brook and Morris Run as well as treat a discharge on Coal Creek. This combination of treatments will improve the water quality of not only the Tioga River, but also Tioga Lake and its effluent.
“Treating Coal Creek and cleaning up the Tioga River will help restore the fish and aquatic habitat to the River; provide clean water for municipal, agricultural, recreational, commercial and industrial purposes, such as irrigation for agriculture and kayaking for citizens; and ensure the water flowing through Blossburg and into the Chesapeake Bay from the Tioga River is clean and helping to restore the communities and waterways along its path,” said, Tom Clark, Mine Drainage Program Coordinator with the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.
“The Susquehanna River Basin Commission recognized the importance of the property. We appreciate the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy’s help in taking the step of acquiring the property so our options for treatment design can remain flexible as the project moves ahead. We are planning to wrap-up the design and permitting next year, and can’t wait for the day when this property no longer has Abandoned Mine Drainage flowing through it,” Clark added.
Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy Board Member, Julie Weaver added, “When I was teaching science at Miller Elementary [Southern Tioga School District] we studied the Tioga River and had the kids test the water quality. It was the example of ‘polluted’ water and allowed us to have many conversations about pollution and remediation. It’s very exciting to know that the River will soon be remediated. I’m happy that the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy could help the partners take another step forward by acquiring the property. We’re excited and ready to work with the community”
Eventually NPC will work with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry and the property will become part of the Tioga State Forest.