CITIZEN CONTACT: Amber Finkelstein

Ohio EPA Awards Huff Run Watershed Restoration $326,900 to Reclaim Mine Land

Ohio EPA has awarded a $326,900 grant to Huff Run Watershed Restoration Partnership in Mineral City (Tuscarawas County) to reclaim 10 acres impacted by coal mining spoils. The Partnership is matching the grant with $163,500. The grant is one of 12 totaling more than $2.7 million awarded by Ohio EPA to help communities restore waterways impaired by nonpoint source pollution.

The Hilltop Restoration Project will eliminate acid mine water from the coal waste refuse (gob piles). Those 10 acres will be re-graded and covered with a foot of clean soil from the site. A half-acre mine pit impoundment will be treated (pH will be increased and iron will be removed). Then, the impoundment will be dewatered and the area will be re-graded to facilitate positive drainage. A 600-foot limestone drainage channel will be constructed to further treat runoff and minimize erosion from the site to Huff Run. Fifteen acres will be treated with lime material and the entire site will be replanted with quick-growing vegetation.

The project was recommended in the state-endorsed Huff Run watershed action plan. The project includes conducting public education and outreach.

Successful completion of this project will reduce nonpoint source pollutant loadings to Huff Run. The estimated load reductions include 361 pounds per year of metals, 58 pounds per year of iron and 1,475 pounds per year of acid.

Nonpoint source pollution is the leading cause of water quality impairment in Ohio. It is caused by rain or snowmelt moving over and through the ground, picking up natural and human-made pollutants and depositing them in lakes, rivers, wetlands and other waterways. Other forms of nonpoint source pollution include modifications to natural stream flow, habitat alteration and nutrients. Polluted runoff can have harmful effects on drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries and wildlife.

In 1987, Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act created a national program to control nonpoint source pollution. Ohio EPA administers the program for U.S. EPA and distributes millions of federal dollars to projects proposed by local governments and community organizations such as watershed groups. To be eligible, grant recipients must contribute at least a 20 percent match consisting of cash or in-kind contributions or services. Grants of up to $350,000 are awarded for three-year periods.

Applications for the next round of grants, which are due on June 1, 2012, are available through Ohio EPA’s district offices or by contacting Russ Gibson at (614) 644-2020 or Martha Spurbeck at (614) 644-2869. More information on the grants, an electronic application and examples of previously successful projects are available online.