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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summerlee Bioremediation Project

Most of you know by now that I enjoy playing in the outdoors, but most people don't know what I do with the other 1% of my time (just kidding, more like 60%). At the forefront of my ideals and beliefs, comes a passion for environmental activism. Over the last five years I have been working on issues that stretch from the headwaters of the Columbia River to the drainages in Puerto Rico. Lately, I have been working on water quality issues associated with the New River in West Virginia, but more specifically local issues around Fayetteville. The predominant issues in this area are fecal coliform bacteria (spawned by the mismanagement of waste water treatment, and agricultural runoff) and abandoned mine lands. It may be news to some, but the Lower New River made it on the EPA 303(d) list as an impaired stream as defined by TMDLs for fecal coliform bacteria. While this news has not hit the main stream media (and it is public info), it would be devastating for the rafting and tourism industry. Over the last 12 years the Plateau Action Network has been working on combating these issues, and has recently developed a comprehensive Watershed Based Plan (WBP) for the Wolf Creek Watershed. The WBP allows our organization to submit proposals for federal and state funding to work on nonpoint pollution management.

Over the last month I have been working on a 319 proposal for an Acid Mine Drainage site at the headwaters of Wolf Creek. My proposal was finally accepted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Proposal Coordinator today, and will be submitted to the EPA for further review! Below is an executive summary of the proposal.

Project Summary

In conjunction with previous work by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection and the Office of Abandoned Mine Lands & Reclamation (Phase I), this project is being proposed as a modification to Phase I of the Summerlee Site. The Summerlee Refuse Pile, located at the headwaters of the Wolf Creek watershed and discharging into an unnamed tributary at river mile 8.7(WVKN-10-M), is the most significant source of acid mine drainage (AMD) within the watershed. Streams within the Wolf Creek watershed are impaired by high levels of iron, aluminum, and fecal coliform bacteria, as well as low pH. In addition, biological impairments are caused by organic enrichment and sedimentation. Total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) have been calculated for the Wolf Creek watershed as part of a broader TMDL report for the New River (Tetra Tech, 2008).

Continuing on going efforts, PAN has several priorities outlined for 2009, each aimed at load reductions for iron, aluminum, and fecal coliform as specified by the TMDL. In order to achieve our goals for 2009, funding is being requested for: 1.) Phase 1 modification of the Summerlee Site (planning and development of a bioremediation terrace at the foot of the refuse pile and wetland restoration 2.) Community outreach and education on the impairments of Wolf Creek, and the measures taken by PAN to remediate these impairments. The Watershed Basin Coordinator of Wolf Creek will manage these projects and track their progress.

The goals of this project:

  • To reduce the iron and aluminum discharging from the Summerlee site, by constructing a terraced landscape that will promote low pH iron oxidation, and modification of an existing wetland to increase its ability to retain metals and add alkalinity. By utilizing the low pH-iron oxidation process, water with a low pH and high in ferrous iron (indicative of the water at the site) reacts to the sudden association with atmospheric oxygen to change the ferrous iron to ferric iron. During this ferrous to ferric conversion, iron and acidity are removed from the water, resulting in reductions as high as 60% of the iron and 40% of the acid. Load reductions for iron are estimated at 165,679 lbs/yr. and aluminum at 11,132 lbs/yr by the implementation of this project.
  • Evaluate the performance on load reductions from the modification/implementation of Phase 1 before moving on to Phase II.


ChristineC said...

This is very informative. What product will you be using for your bioremediation treatment? I have some ideas to offer. My company provides a microbial culture that has been very successful in the breakdown of hydrocarbons, etc. It would be great to try a feasibility study to demonstrate.

Levitator said...


I would enjoy discussing the project with you more. You can email me at levidrose@gmail.com Thanks for your interest!

Lydia said...

Good to hear this is in the works (or was?). Let me know how it goes/went.