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Watershed association receives state grant to clean up Babcock Creek

December 14, 2018

The Paint Creek Regional Watershed Association is planning improvements to Babcock Creek in Ogle and Paint townships, which members hope will bring life back to the stream.

These improvements include the installation of truckloads of limestone sand in the creek, which is meant to reduce the acidity of the stream caused by acid mine drainage. The project will be funded by a $48,193 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Watershed association President Richard Wargo said the goal is to stock Babcock Creek with brook trout.

“We’ve got to sweeten the water up so we can get aquatic life in there and food to nourish them,” he said.

Wargo said the acid mine drainage is coming from boreholes that coal companies made near the stream to search for coal seams.

Melissa Reckner, consultant for the association, said the acid mine drainage was so bad that traditional passive treatment systems could not improve the water quality.

“With improving technology and other factors, we decided to revisit those discharges,” she said. “We determined that if we add limestone sand, an alkaline material, we can alter the pH up to where trout can survive.” She said Babcock Creek has the worst water quality of the Paint Creek watershed in northern Somerset County, and the creek creates a “dead zone” at the place where it enters the Stonycreek River. After many years of working on Babcock Creek, Reckner hopes the Paint Creek tributary will eventually have at least a neutral impact on the Stonycreek River.

“As a small organization, all we can do is work from the headwaters and down,” she said. “And hopefully more will join us to make a difference.”

The association is made up of volunteers. They plan to clean up litter around the creek on March 30. Anyone interested in volunteering or serving on the association’s board can call Wargo at 814-525-0844.

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