Sewickley Creek Watershed Association
Brinkerton Mine Discharge Site
The abandoned Brinkerton Mine and Hecla #1 mine produce the hallmark discharges of the Sewickley Creek Watershed.This site is located in the upper Sewickley Creek Watershed in Mt. Pleasant Township. Discharge from the mine pool at this site has been emanating approximately 4,000 gpm for nearly four decades, severely degrading downstream water quality. This discharge has naturally improved to a net alkaline discharge over the past three decades.
The Sewickley Creek Watershed Association has purchased 52 acres in this area, including a 25-year lease on wetlands, designed a treatment system, procured funding, delineated the site, and began building a system. The discharge level has been raised and moved from its original channel into a series of diked channels. An aeration system is currently being installed at the site to increase the oxidation of the discharge water to speed up the deposition of the iron oxide. Work continues. The long term goal of the Association at this site is to reduce pollution to the stream, and develop an environmentally sensitive recreational area.
View the SCWA fact sheet for Brinkerton
Coke Oven Restoration
The Sewickley Creek Watershed Association participates in the preservation of the watershed's industrial past and strives to keep history alive, especially as it relates to the importance of our waterways. The Brinkerton site houses 50 beehive coke ovens, the remnants of the Hester Coke Works, which was in operation commercially between 1900 and 1913. Batteries of ovens such as these were used to transform coal into coke, a fuel with fewer impurities that was used in the steelmaking process. They are among the best-preserved coke ovens in the area, and Watershed Association maintains these ovens as part of an effort to preserve an important part of our history. The Watershed Association has undertaken a trial restoration of one of the ovens using original techniques, and future restoration is to be completed as funding becomes available.
Improved Water Quality Leads to New Recreational Opportunities
Many of the waterways in the Sewickley Creek Watershed were, at one point, too polluted by abandoned mine drainage to support aquatic life. Due to the efforts of the Watershed Association, the waterways at Brinkerton have now improved to the point that fish can survive in the water. For the past several years, the Watershed Association has teamed up with the West Newton Sportsmen's Association in order to stock trout in the Sewickley Creek. Due to the work of the Watershed Association and its partners, fisherman are now able to enjoy fishing the Sewickley River again.