Ecologists are working on more efficient ways to clean up the water supply in our area.
Blair County native Colin Lennox started EcoIslands, LLC and created a long-term system to clean water. He hopes companies across the nation will buy it.
“It’s allowing nature to sort itself out,” Lennox explained, “and by sorting itself out, cleaning the water. …Then you put in as many boxes as you need overall to get the entire load cleaned up.”
They’re called Metal Removal Units (MVUs). Basically, they’re a wetland in a box.
“The same basic construction model as a septic tank,” Lennox. “In this case, they’re self standing.”
These boxes were put in at Squatter Falls in Logan Township, Blair County just two days ago. They cost around $8,000 each and could be bought up by mining companies or the Department of Environmental Protection.
“You gotta modulate your costs and you gotta be cheaper, faster, and better to get it taken care of as soon as possible,” he said.
You set them up with coconut husks to help filter water and then walk away as the water filters through, letting nature do the rest.
“You have this huge opportunity, if you just let the bio-film do their thing,” he said. “Let the bugs thrive, let them do their thing, ’cause they’ll do it for free.”
The boxes offer an opportunity to clean our water supply and allow ecologists to do some research.
“It’s very easy to do very good research with what is a very rare kind of environment,” Lennox explained. “It is pollution but it does give us the opportunity to learn a lot about science and to apply new techniques with the good graces of the water authority working alongside.”
It’s all to clean up the orange mine run-off you see all around our area, and the system is expanding to other states. So far, 18 tanks are in the ground.
“If anybody can think back even about 10, 15 years ago looking at Glen White Run just down along 31st Street Sheetz and how orange it had looked before that – no treatment whatsoever – compared to now,” Lennox said. “Now, it’s still not perfect by any means. There’s still a ways to go.”
This system is fairly new, but it’s already making progress in cleaning our water supply. It could still take thousands of years to completely rid our water of mine runoff.
In fact, it’s estimated there is $15 billion worth of acid mine drainage cleanup that still needs to be completed in Pennsylvana alone. It is still in the early stages, but Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Oregon are already using the boxes. Lennox is currently looking to expand into Colorado.