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  • Writer's pictureSewickleyCreekWatershed

Electrofishing Provides "Shocking" Results at Brinkerton

Faculty and students from Garrett College along with members of the Westmoreland Conservation District waded through the Sewickley Creek on Friday, August 11th. The group gathered along the Brinkerton AMD site to electrofish the Sewickley Creek above and below the Passive Treatment System site.

Electrofishing uses an electrical current to stun the fish for a few seconds so they can be collected in nets and buckets. This method is used to sample fish populations to determine abundance, density and species composition. After a 100 meter stretch, the fish are identified, counted and returned back to the stream unharmed. Six different species of fish were collected below (downstream) the passive treatment system and ten different species above (upstream) the system.

The Brinkerton passive treatment system treats the abandoned mine discharge with a series of ponds and wetlands. Oxygen mixes with the mine water and iron oxide is collected in the bottom of the ponds. The system removes approximately 80% of the iron oxide (rust that coats the rocks and turns the water orange) before the water is returned back to Sewickley Creek. The fish survey indicated that iron oxide is still limiting the number of species found downstream. Additional work is underway to make the passive treatment system more efficient at removing additional iron oxide, which will have a positive effect on the water quality of Sewickley Creek.

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