Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Learning every day

Here in Western PA the streams look dead. No fish, no greens. Nothing. It's so sad compared to the clean rivers of Washington. Well, except the Yakima. That one is a bit muddy in teh Columbia Basin area.

Anyway.....I found this description that helps clarify why the streams in this area are what they are. I acquired this info from SwampWalker14 a GeoCacher.

"This cache is located at an active Acid Mine Drainage treatment system called JB2. You are probably wondering what Acid Mine Drainage is. Acid Mine Drainage (or AMD) is contaminated water runoff from old coal mines, either strip mines or underground mines. When a mine is abandoned, water collects and floods the mine. When the coal-bearing rock is exposed to air and water, the oxidation of metal sulfides, often pyrite, within the surrounding rock creates acidity. The AMD, or mine water, is high in acidity and dissolved metals like iron and aluminum. The metals stay dissolved in the AMD water until the pH rises to a level where precipitation can occur. This makes AMD water look like a red, orange, or even a yellowish color. If the AMD contains lots of dissolved aluminum, the water will look pale blue like spilled milk. AMD is a big problem in western Pennsylvania because it smothers the tiny creatures called macroinvertebrates that fish need to live. AMD spoils people's drinking water, stains everything it touches and smells like rotten eggs. AMD pollution can kill all the life in a stream.
The JB2 Treatment System treats AMD flowing into Raccoon Creek from an old underground mine. This treatment system works by settling out (or precipitating) the AMD water in a large, shallow basin filled with high pH limestone. The shallow basin exposes the AMD to air. The air makes the dissolved iron settle out onto the limestone bottom. The limestone raises the pH and reduces the acidity of the water. This filters most of the iron out of the water. Next it flows over a dam where more air mixes through the water, and into a bed of larger limestone. This cleans the water even more. Then the water passes under Joffre-Cherry Valley Road to another settling pond where even more iron drops out. The JB2 Treatment System removes over 15 tons of iron, 2 tons of aluminum, and 105 tons of acidity from Raccoon Creek every year.
This cache is off of Joffre Cherry Valley Road. The treatment system is on both sides of the road. There is a gravel parking lot you can use. There are no trespassing signs on the wooden fences surrounding the ponds. But I have land owner permission to place the geocache here. If you would like to look at the ponds please stay on the outside of the fence. This is a simple cache to find. I hope this will teach you a little about the problem with Acid Mine Drainage. There are brochures in the cache about the Raccoon Creek Watershed Association and the Independence Conservancy. These are volunteer organizations whose members working hard to clean up Raccoon Creek."

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