Klemow, Kenneth M. 2001. RESTORING AN URBANIZED WATERSHED IMPACTED BY ABANDONED MINE DRAINAGE: AN INTEGRATED STRATEGY. Contributed paper: Ecological Society of America meeting. Abstract: Ecological Society of America Abstracts 108.
The Nanticoke Creek watershed is a 19.6 sq. km catchment in northeastern Pennsylvania that discharges into the North Branch of the Susquehanna River. Surface drainage occurs within a 8.5 km long main stem and two tributaries measuring 4.5 km and 2.9 km respectively. Since the late 1800s, the watershed has been heavily impacted by past anthracite mining and urbanization. In all three streams, flow from the headwaters is lost as water infiltrates into the subterranean mine pool, resulting in dry channels that are 1.2 &endash; 1.6 km long. A housing development built in the 1970s completely obliterated one of those channels. The last 2.0 km of creek is severely degraded by abandoned mine drainage, most of which originates from an outfall discharging up to 10,000 GPM of water containing 40-75 mg/L of iron. Thus, the headwaters are isolated from the Susquehanna by a disruption of flow and by iron pollution that acts as a chemical barrier. Since 1996, two wetlands were constructed to improve water quality, and they effectively remove iron from the water they receive. However, limited acreage suitable for wetland construction limits the potential of that approach. Instead, an integrated strategy involving stream channel restoration, spoil bank removal, and creation of new channels to bypass urbanized areas must be adopted to achieve water quality goals and establish ecologically sound riparian corridors that link the headwaters to the river.