Since the organization began in 1994, Mountain Watershed Association has restored 70% of Indian Creek, reducing the length of impaired stream miles in the watershed from 47 miles to 14. The first abandoned mine discharge treatment system was developed in the Indian Creek watershed in 2001. Since then, we have developed 5 treatment systems to divert contaminated mine water, filter out pollutants, and direct the cleaned water back into the stream.

A Brief Explanation of Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD)

Coal extraction from both surface and deep mines exposes rock layers that contain minerals, such as iron, aluminum, and manganese. When these minerals are exposed to water and air, they can become dissolved in water and create a chemical reaction, sometimes coloring the water red (iron), white (aluminum), or have no effect on the water clarity and color. 

This metal-rich water can flow from runoff on surface mines and seeps from abandoned underground mines that fill with water over time. The Indian Creek watershed is impacted by dozens of abandoned underground coal mines that leach contaminated water from the mine pool into the mainstem and tributary streams of Indian Creek. We typically refer to this as abandoned mine drainage, or AMD. If left untreated, chronic pollution from AMD will impair or kill much of the aquatic life within streams.

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Our Abandoned Mine Discharge Projects

Abandoned coal mines, some taken out of commission over 100 years ago, are a major source of pollution impacting stream health in the Indian Creek watershed. MWA has developed a number of projects to implement treatment systems that remediate areas impacted by abandoned mine discharges. Click on the pictures to learn more about each remediation project.

News & Updates

A Laurel Highlands Springtime in a Changing Climate

April 22, 2021

Spring has sprung in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. The ephemeral streams are flowing, the hillsides and valleys are blanketed with native spring wildflowers, and the neo-tropical migratory birds are…

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Stream Insects Indicate Water Quality

March 30, 2021

On a warm morning in early Spring, Mountain Watershed staff made their way north on the Indian Creek Valley Trail, carrying a net, a measuring tape, empty mason jars, metal…

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Springs: What They Are and Why We’re Testing Them

January 14, 2021

Springs are a natural source of fresh, cold, flowing water that have undoubtedly attracted humans to them for millennia. Entire communities have been formed around springs, and many homes built…

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