The Schuylkill River Heritage Area has received $169,149 from Exelon Nuclear's Limerick Generating Station to bolster the Schuylkill River Watershed Restoration Fund-a fund used to improve water quality in the river and its tributaries.
The money has been awarded to two non-profit agencies for projects that will mitigate abandoned mine drainage (AMD) and agricultural pollution.
Exelon Nuclear has now contributed more than $750,000 over the four years that the program has been in existence. The annual fund is part of a demonstration project for what is known as the water supply program at Exelon Nuclear's Limerick Generating Station. That program is under the purview of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC).
The Schuylkill River Heritage Area oversees the fund, distributing money annually to non-profit organizations and government agencies for projects that will enhance water quality and quantity in the Schuylkill River Watershed.
"This program has allowed us to fund several important projects over the past few years that have improved the health of the Schuylkill River Watershed," said Kurt Zwikl, Executive Director of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. "Our partnership with Limerick Generating Station demonstrates the value Exelon Nuclear places on the river and our community."
This year, two projects dealing with agricultural improvements and abandoned mine drainage restoration, were selected. Both projects will benefit the entire watershed because they reduce the amount of run-off and pollution that enters creeks, and ultimately, the river, which is a source of drinking water for over one million people.
This year's project awards are:
Berks County Conservancy - Guntz Farm Agricultural Project - $75,000
This project will implement Agriculture Best Management Practices on the Guntz Farm, which is located at the confluence of the Little Manatawny and Manatawny Creeks. Project scope will include construction of a concrete manure storage facility, streambank fencing and cattle crossings, as well as barnyard stormwater runoff controls. Purpose of the project is to alleviate streambank erosion and to prevent manure from entering the creeks.
Schuylkill Headwaters Association - Wheeler Run Project - $100,000
This project will replace the existing Wheeler Run Flume from the Pine Knot Mine, Schuylkill County's largest contributor of abandoned mine drainage. The existing wooden flume will be replaced with a large-diameter plastic corrugated pipe. Large rip rap will also be used at the bottom of the flume to redefine the channel and slow the water's velocity. Purpose of the project is to keep surface water from entering into the Pine Knot Mine Pool, thereby reducing non-point source pollution.
Recipients were selected by a committee made up of representatives from Exelon, the Delaware River Basin Commission, Philadelphia Water Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Environmental Protection, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.
In order to further protect and improve the watershed, the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and Exelon hope to encourage more corporations to contribute to the program in the future.
"The health of the Schuylkill River is important to us," said Chris Mudrick, Limerick Site Vice President. "This program has had a very positive impact on the river, and we will continue to partner with the Schuylkill River Heritage Area on this and other projects."