CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ)– Multiple organizations gathered Wednesday to stock trout at Blacklick Creek to celebrate having higher quality water.

A clean-up process spanning decades was done to the creek, bringing it new life. Now that the waste has been removed from the creek, it’s safer for both residents and trout.

The Appalachian Region Independent Power Producers Association (ARIPPA) and Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (WPCAMR) were some of the organizations that attended. They each highlighted the success of the clean-up and how it positively impacts the community.

The Regional Coordinator of WPCAMR, Andy McAllister, said that removing all this is good because it can stay cleaner for a while longer. It also marks the first step in doing this process to other bodies of water in the state.

“These sites just proliferate, and now due to ARIPPA and the waste coal industry removing the waste coal piles that polluted this area,” McAllister said. “The water quality is good enough that we can get trout back in the stream, and it’s a wonderful thing.”

Before the clean-up, the creek was contaminated with Acid Mine Drainage (AMD). That is acidic water that is filled with heavy metal. According to EPA, acidic water forms from a reaction between surface water and shallow subsurface water with rocks that contain sulfur-bearing minerals.

President of ARIPPA Tom Roberts said that the trout need to have a neutral PH level and have higher oxygen within the water to survive. That, in turn, could mean the trout stay alive during the winter months.

“Fish need a ph. of at least trout of around 7,” Roberts said. “They need high quality, clean, highly oxygenated water that we have in this region. So, removing those inputs and eliminating the acid discharge really enables us to do what we did here today.”

Both organizations agreed that the funding coming from the Infrastructure Bill could help complete their goals of cleaning up streams. McAllister also noted that the Senator Casey bill called the Stream Act would allow up to 30 percent of the state’s annual allocations for Abandoned Mine Land and water reclamation to treat AMD.

“These things right in here that we have will be able to further leverage what we can accomplish,” Roberts said. “So, it’s a really good investment and not just for the local economy but the broader economy, and we can transfer this to future generations.”

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Both say this will also boost tourism within the community.