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A transformation

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Various areas of Big Creek resemble orange wetlands.
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Various areas of Big Creek resemble orange wetlands.
Published January 17. 2013 05:01PM

Planners with the Schuylkill Headwaters Association Inc. (SHA) are hoping to transform a heavily polluted creek in Brockton into an actively producing trout stream with trout fishery.

Members of SHA and Rettew Associates Inc. held a community discussion at the Mary D Fire Company recently concerning their Big Creek Watershed Coldwater Conservation Plan, funded by the Coldwater Heritage Partnership.

The plan involved would incorporate some form of mine drainage treatment and other ideas to better the creek. Planners mentioned that it would also utilize a small number of local, regional and governmental resources.

The Big Creek watershed, which originates at an abandoned stripping pit, includes approximately 8.5 miles of streams and eventually drains into the Schuylkill River. Its drainage area encompasses over 3.5 square miles. Moore stated that the watershed is currently used as a municipal water source, as well as for a limited source of outdoor recreation. The use of the land around the creek included anthracite coal mining and timber harvesting.

In addition to future plans, the discussion involved acid rain and abandoned mine drainage and how each has affected the creek. Julia Moore, biologist, Environmental Science Services, Rettew, stressed the very high acidity and alkalinity of the creek, stating that nine sample points taken this past year throughout the length of the creek ranged from 3.0 to 6.0 pH.

Two other aquatic surveys taken in 2003 at the creek had pH levels of 4.3 and 4.7. Safe drinking water has a pH level between 7 and 9.5. She added that tests resulted in a very low amount of macroinvertebrates in the stream to sustain fish life. No fish were seen in the creek. She added that only a few crawfish, frogs and salamanders were observed.

One area of abandoned mine discharge discussed involved an existing wetland located behind the Moss Glen Rod and Gun Club. Moore said the area is very acidic and its bottom is coated in orange iron hydroxide sludge.

Planners also talked about the Forest Stewardship Program. The program's goal is to sustain healthy and productive forests for people and wildlife. The Blythe Township Municipal Authority is a participant of this program.

"It is unfathomable regarding the lack of macroinvertebrates in the creek," said Moore.

Planners added that they need additional funding to continue with the project.

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