Cooperatove Conservation Project

Nanty Glo Environmental Restoration

Clean up of acid coal mine water

Location: Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic Region: Pennsylvania

Project Summary: This project treats mine discharge water via a passive treatment system composed of 2 vertical flow ponds and a wetland.
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Photograph provided through Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclaimation
Resource Challenge

Known locally as the Webster Discharge Project, this project is essential to efforts to restore Blacklick Creek, a large tributary to the Conemaugh River. Blacklick Creek is one of the most profoundly polluted streams in Pennsylvania. Acid drainage from the abandoned Webster Mine (bituminous coal) is one of four significant sources of pollution from abandoned mine discharge (AMD) drainage in the South Branch of Blacklick Creek.  Clean up of the water discharged from Webster is essential to restoring the watershed to a level capable of sustaining aquatic life.  Water from this discharge has been documented to have an average pH of 3.0, roughly the Ph of vinegar, a level at which almost no aquatic life can be sustained.


Examples of Key Partners
  • Cambria County Conservation & Recreation Authority (CCCRA)


  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation (PADEP-BAMR)


  • The Blacklick Creek Watershed Association


  • Blacklick Valley Industrial Development Association


  • Western Pennsylvania Watershed Protection Program


  • U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Surface Mining


  • The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation


  • The Borough of Nanty Glo


  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District


Results and Accomplishments

In order to remove this toxic source of pollution from the watershed, a passive treatment system was constructed.  The project, completed in October 2004, treats the Webster Mine Discharge by piping the water from the mine under State Route 471 and Pergrin Run and into the treatment system.  The 19-acre system was designed to treat a flow of 450 gallons per minute.  The water flows into two settling ponds which filter the water through a mixture of limestone and mushroom compost.  This process adds alkalinity to the water, raising the pH level to close to neutral (7.0).  Raising the pH causes the dissolved metals in the water, primarily iron and aluminum, to “drop out” of the water in the ponds.  Next, the water flows into the “finishing” wetland which completes raising the pH.  The water, now able to sustain aquatic life, is discharged into Pergrin Run which flows into the South Branch of Blacklick Creek just downstream of the treatment system.






The improved water helps to benefit the local communities of  Nanty Glo, Twin Rocks, Vintondale, Dilltown and Blacklick.  These are all old coal mining communities which were devastated by the loss of jobs when the mines closed.  Now the communities must endure “orange, sulfur-smelling” water.  The improvement of the water has made the area more attractive to outdoor recreationists and has resulted in new enterprises -- such as the Ghost Town Trail -- which has contributed to the economic and social recovery of these rural communities.




An incremental analysis was performed during project formulation and design to establish that a dual pond system was superior to a large single pond system for treating mine water in achieving aquatic ecosystem restoration objectives. The dual system was designed to fit within the limits of the available treatment site, and at no increase in overall project cost.

Project Contact
Kathleen J. Anderson
Project Manager
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District
William Moorhead Federal Building, RM 2200 1000 Liberty Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Delores Columbus
Executive Direction
Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Authority
401 Candlelight Drive, Suite 234
Ebensburg, PA 15931

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