Catawissa Creek Watershed

 
In 1997 a Catawissa Creek Fisheries Management Report was completed by the PA Fish and Boat Commission.  This report showed a baseline for which the state was able to make designations of the different types of fisheries in the watershed.  The main stem and Tomhicken Creeks were considered non-fishable since the pH and aluminum levels were not suitable for fish populations.  This of course was due to mine drainage emanating out of 5 tunnels in the headwaters of the Catawissa Watershed.

In 2001, the Catawissa Creek Restoration Association (CCRA) and EPCAMR completed the construction of the Oneida #1 Tunnel Discharge Treatment System in Eagle Rock Resort.  The system consisted of 3 buried limestone beds (each bed was split in 2 halves separated by a headwall) and a settling pond.  The 1,500 gpm discharge is collected by an under drain intake system, diverted and split into the 3 beds.  The pH is raised by the limestone from about 4 to 7 and aluminum is collected in the settling pond.  The resulting water is much cleaner and healthier for aquatic life.  The system is completely drained at least monthly by Eagle Rock Resort maintenance crews.

In 2003, the EPA approved the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Catawissa Creek Watershed For Acid Mine Drainage Affected Segments.  This document showed impaired segments of the watershed and placed pollution loadings on each source.  It was determined that the Audenreid Tunnel Discharge accounted for 80% of the aluminum loading to the creek.

In 2004, the Catawissa Creek Restoration Association (CCRA) with the help of DEP 319 Program and EPCAMR have developed a Catawissa Creek Watershed Implementation Plan to address the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Report. This document explains the various pollution sources, what needs to be done to meet Pollutant Load Reductions required by the TMDL and the estimated cost to bring the Catawissa Creek back to its designated use.

In 2005, as a result of the implementation plan was the construction of a treatment system for the Audenreid Tunnel Discharge outside of Sheppton, PA.  The system consists of 3 limestone filled upflow style tanks and settling ponds and was originally designed to treat about 8,000 gpm.  An under drain intake system collects the polluted mine water from the discharge channel, diverts and splits the flow to the 3 tanks.  Later, a bypass intake system and micro hydro turbines were installed on the outflow of the tanks to generate electricity on approximately 10,000 gpm of water to help flush the tanks on a regular basis to limit aluminum sludge buildup in the tanks.

In 2008, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council spearheaded a Rivers Conservation Plan for the Catawissa Creek Watershed with the help of EPCAMR, CCRA and PA DCNR.  The planning documents: QuestionnaireFact Sheet and Watershed Map are also available.  The plan was completed in 2010.

In 2009, the 3rd treatment system was constructed to treat the Oneida #3 Tunnel Discharge outside of Eagle Rock Resort.  The system was fashioned after the Audenreid Treatment System, but only has 1 limestone tank (with plans to build a second) and treats about 3,000 gpm of mine water.

As stated in many planning documents, the goal of the CCRA is to restore the “Catty” to a trout fishery once again.  Lots of progress has been made already.  If you would like to become involved in this watershed, please fill out the questionnaire above and send it to:

Columbia County Conservation District
c/o Watershed Specialist 
702 Sawmill Road, Suite 204
Bloomsburg, PA 17815  
(570) 784 -1310 x 102   

They will add you to the Steering Committee list. You will then be invited to attend monthly meetings that will be held though out the rest of the year. You may also consider being a part of the Catawissa Creek Restoration Association.  This group is currently working on getting an informational website.

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