MANSFIELD - Charles and Joyce Andrews were the guest speakers at Mill Cove Corp.'s fourth annual membership meeting Wednesday at the newly completed pavilion in the Mill Cove Environmental Area near here.
The Andrews, leaders of the Tioga County Concerned Citizens Committee, presented a program about the organization's efforts to clean up the mine-acid pollution in the Tioga River and how that effort has impacted the Tioga Lake.
Founding members of the organization, which works on environmental issues in the region such as the restoration of the Upper Tioga River watershed, the Andrews have been involved in such projects since 1984 and have been applying for grants, to funds projects involving limestone treatments for portions of the river.
They now have focused on Fall Brook, which is in Ward Township and flows through Tioga State Forest.
A "lime dosing" site has been placed on the Tioga River upper watershed area around Fall Brook using funds from a state Growing Greener grant received in 2010, Joyce said.
"A natural scour pool on Fall Brook with easy access from Welsh Mountain Road was chosen for direct in-stream additions of limestone sand," she said. "The first load of sand was placed in the stream Nov. 11 and watershed committee members have been taking water samples each month at five locations to monitor pH levels."
These water samples are evaluated at Penn State University and will be documented as part of the final report for the state.
"Assuming positive results, we will look for other sites for similar treatment," she added.
While acid mine drainage is the primary cause of the pollution in the river and eliminated all aquatic life from Fall Brook to Mansfield, the headwaters of the upper Tioga River watershed also suffer from low pH resulting from acid rain and some naturally occurring acidic conditions associated with vegetation.
Several projects were designed to increase pH through low impact, minimally invasive methods.
Hemlock Road was resurfaced with limestone and sections of the drainage ditches along Hemlock and Ridge roads were lined with limestone sand.
"We did one triaxle load in November, and then a little while ago we did the other half," Charles said, but it is too soon to "see a lot of results yet."
"The next load will be a higher concentration of limestone sand," he said.
The two organizations are continuing to explore opportunities to treat the acid mine drainage conditions in the upper Tioga River watershed.
But the projects are unable to move forward without funding sources for ongoing operations, maintenance and repair expenses associated with the chemical treatment plans required to effectively treat the acidic conditions.
After nearly 20 years of trying to get funding from the government to clean up the watershed, Andrews said he has come to the conclusion that the money to do it probably isn't going to come from the government.
"We have decided to turn to searching for more corporate funding," he said, such as from the natural gas industry that recently moved into the area.
Talisman Energy is one such company that has helped the group obtain funding and provided manpower to spread limestone on one roadway in the state forest lands where much of the watershed runs.
The Mill Cove Corp., is caretaker of the Mill Cove Environmental Area.