By Emmie Cornell
The plans for the new water quality improvement system that will replace the defunct Wetland Anoxic Limestone Drain (WALD) along the North Fork have been drawn up, and once a few adjustments are made based on the Forest Service’s suggestions, construction plans can be created. This will set the timeline of the WALD replacement back a bit, but will hopefully add to the sustainability and longevity of this treatment system.
Phase 1 will see two, 120 foot x 30 foot x 5 foot limestone leachbeds dug along the North Fork, filtering the heavy metals out of the water and raising the pH. This water will pour into a settling pond, allowing the metals to sink and be extracted, and then flow back into the North Fork where it’ll be on its way into the beautiful Blackwater River! Friends of Blackwater will, of course, be diligently monitoring this water to make sure that that limestone beds are doing their job and the freshly cleaned water is entering back into our river as it should be.
Phase 2, which isn’t set to begin until 2021, will include three more limestone beds that will further clean the water and (fingers crossed) prove that this method of water remediation is a success in this watershed! While neither phase will raise the pH and remove the metals out of all of the water entering the North Fork, our continued monitoring will hopefully show that this water quality improvement project is well worth the investment and effort towards cleaning up our watersheds.
Hedin Environmental, the designer of this project, has successfully restored streams all over the area. The Pittsburgh Botanical Garden features an ingenious Zen garden with a wooden walkway that just so happens to traverse across- you guessed it- a lime stone leachbed! Take a drive to the Botanical Gardens or check it out online and get excited for the clean water that the WALD restoration project will be introducing back into the North Fork.