GRANTS TO AID IN REHABILITATION OF SAINT VINCENT WETLANDS
LATROBE, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has awarded Saint Vincent College a grant through its Growing Greener Plus Program to be used for the rehabilitation of a portion of the on-campus wetlands.
The Pennsylvania DEP awarded Saint Vincent $213,295, which was then supplemented by a $50,000 grant from the Office of Surface Mining’s Watershed Cooperative Agreement Program (WCAP). The College will provide an in-kind contribution with the donation of the use of equipment, valued at approximately $3,600.
The rehabilitation project is expected to last 36 months. It will address a number of problems related to wear and tear that have cropped up at Wetland #1, one of three large ponds designed and installed in 1998 as part of the Monastery Run Improvement Plan (MRIP). These three ponds, which cover more than 20 acres, control discharges from abandoned deep mines into the stream Fourmile Run, which feeds the larger Loyalhanna Creek. These discharges were responsible for significantly reducing aquatic diversity and biomass.
After 20 years of usage, Wetland #1 is struggling to handle the high flows from the discharges within the wetland system. Several problems have developed over the years due to high flow rates, erosion of internal berms used to control water flow and increased precipitation of iron. The high flow rates have necessitated the transferring of effluent water to the adjacent Wetland #2 for additional treatment.
The grant will fund the evaluation and removal of sludge in Wetland #1, as well as the repair of the internal berms with aggregate berms. This berm improvement will allow the water to have a more controlled flow and longer retention time, which will allow for more iron removal. The project will include regular evaluation and sample collection.
Fr. Paul Taylor, O.S.B., Saint Vincent executive vice president, will lead the project team and provide oversight for all project activities. Beth Bollinger, chemistry lab manager in the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Computing, will serve as project director. Dr. Caryl Fish, associate professor of chemistry, will assist with project evaluation, while Susan Huba, executive director of the Loyalhanna Watershed Association, and Robert Cronauer, watershed specialist for the Westmoreland Conservation District, will also provide guidance and technical assistance. Hedin Environmental will be the engineering firm.
Saint Vincent and the MRIP have previously benefited from the Growing Greener grant initiative in 2005, 2008 and 2013. Completed work has included the repair of an earthen dike, installation of a chain link fence along several banks in Wetland #3 for muskrat control, the cleaning of vegetative and sediment blockage in Wetland #2 and the repair of erosion areas and removal of sludge from Wetlands #2 and #3.
Growing Greener is a voter-approved plan that has invested more than $625 million to clean up rivers and streams, protect natural areas, open spaces and working farms, and shore up key programs to improve quality of life across the state of Pennsylvania. Funds are distributed to four state agencies, including the DEP, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority.
The DEP is authorized to allocate its portion of the funds for watershed restoration and protection, abandoned mine reclamation and abandoned oil and gas well plugging projects.