Western PA Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation

Quarterly Meeting Minutes
November 16, 2006

EatíNíPark, Indiana, PA


In attendance:

Bob Eppley (President)
Bruce Golden (Staff)
Jim Panaro, (Secretary)
Andy McAllister, (Staff)
Jeff Gerard, (Staff)
Tim Danehy, BioMost/SRI
Todd Deluccia, Cameron CD
Jim Eckenrode, Blair CD
Curtis Kratz, Penn E&R
Lance Bowes, Venango CD
Tobias Nagle, Altoona City Auth.
Dick Smith, Beaver County
Mario Carrello, DEP, Moshannon
Kim Lanich, Elk CD
Brent Means, OSM
Ron Horansky, DEP
Peter Dalby, Mill Cr. Coalition
Dennis Beck, Trout Run Watershed
Mark Killar, WPC
Anne Donovan, Centre CD
Bernie Hoffnar, Bedford CD


LeeRoy Vatter, Indiana CD
Rachel Kester, Clearfield CD
Carl Undercofler, Clearfield CD
David Beale, Armstrong CD
Pam Meade, Armstrong CD
Thurman Koons, Wells Creek Watershed Assn.
John Sherfel, Beaver CD
Jim Charowsky, DEP
Joe Allison, DEP, Cambria DMO
Larry Hutchinson, Shade Cr. Watershed Assn.
Malcolm Crittenden, DEP
Curt Pieper, DEP, MRM
John Gustkey, KC Stream Team
Dennis Remy, Blacklick Cr. Watershed Assn.
Heather Fowler, Fayette CD
Nancy Lezark, Blackleggs Cr. Watershed Assn.
Alex Lezark, Blackleggs Cr. Watershed Assn.
Max Scheeler, DEP-BAMR, Cambria
Rod Fletcher, DEP

Brandon Diehl, WPAWP

Ernest Fuller, Broad Top Township
Pam Milavec, DEP




WPCAMR Business Meeting:
Meeting was chaired by Dr. Bob Eppley and called to order at 10:15 am.

Dr. Eppley explained that the regular business meeting would take place first, then the Operation, Maintenance, and Replacement (OM&R) portion of the meeting would begin.

Introductions of all present.

Secretary’s Report (Dr. Eppley for Jim Panaro):
Review of past meeting minutes. 
Motion (Vatter/Smith) to accept minutes as presented.  Passed.

Treasurer’s Report (Mr. Golden for Greg Philips):
Mr. Golden read the treasurer’s report. 
Motion (Smith/Vatter) to accept the treasurer’s report. Passed.

Regional Coordinator’s report (Mr. Golden):
See attached.

Watershed Coordinator’s report (Mr. McAllister):
See attached.

OSM/VISTA report (Mr. Gerard):
See attached.

Conservation District/Agency/Watershed Association reports (All present)
Those in attendance reported on current and future activities within their respective organizations.

Operation, Maintenance, & Replacement Brainstorming Discussion:

Mr. Golden introduced the discussion topic and Pam Milavec (DEP Cambria, DMO). 

OM&R Workgroup Recommendations:
Ms. Milavec began with a description of  “where we are right now” from the perspective of the OM&R workgroup.  Ms. Milavec gave the background of the workgroup, the recommendations of the workgroup, and the definitions of Operation, Maintenance, and Replacement.  Capitol costs for the construction of treatment systems are very important but there is difficulty so far, in pinning down what the capitol costs have been specifically for construction.  According to the results of the OM&R workgroup, the cost breakdown based on systems already in the ground was analyzed and an average OM&R factor of 4% of the capitol cost of the system is needed on an annual, average basis.  Ms. Milavec described the recommendations made to secretary Hess from the 2001 OM&R workgroup and described those that had been implemented and those that had not been implemented (see attached 2001 OM&R Workgroup recommendations)

The OM&R workgroup was then re-convened in 2003 at the request of Secretary McGinty.  New recommendations were made by the 2003 OM&R workgroup (see attached 2003 OM&R Workgroup recommendations).  A ballpark estimate of on-the-ground total capitol costs for system construction was described as being around $75 million dollars as of 2005.  Using the OM&R factor of 4%, an estimate of OM&R average annual cost was estimated to be $3 Million/year.  After considering the work of  the sponsoring group and volunteers (after assuming a 35% contribution by the group toward the 4%), it was then estimated that 65% of the 4% required for OM&R, which breaks down to approximately $2 Million/year on an average annual basis, would have to come from another source (some government entity?).

Brainstorming Session:
The attendees began discussing various options on what funding sources could be available for an OM&R fund.  Options such as funds coming from civil penalties, industry sources, government sources, etc. were discussed.  Examples of OM&R successes were presented by Stream Restoration, Inc. and the BlackLick Cr. Watershed Association.  Local partnerships and innovative systems (ie. Micro-hydro generation) were presented as important factors when dealing with the operation and maintenance needs of treatment systems.  However, the abilities of each individual group to handle the maintenance needs had to be taken into account; not all groups have the ability and that if the Commonwealth is encouraging watershed groups, the Commonwealth needs to make sure that financial support is available.  Other opinions offered were that the Commonwealth should not be largely responsible for OM&R and that the sponsoring group should hold the primary responsibility of providing operation and maintenance duties for the systems.  Growing Greener II funding is competitive, so any OM&R projects would compete with new projects.  Some funding is going to the Quick Response program while other OM&R projects are being funded by Growing Greener.  Growing Greener funds are a short-term solution, not a long-term solution.  Since replacement costs account for approximately 40% of that annual average cost for OM&R, and that operations costs were largely due to costs of lab analysis for samples, it was also suggested that operations and maintenance should be separated from replacement when considering the current cost estimates to get a better handle on the maintenance costs without considering the one-time replacement cost of the system.  Other points that were brought up were that there are no design standards that are taken into account for systems (eg. Ways to turn water off, providing emergency spillways, etc.) and that we must design for maintenance.

What is Needed and Possible Avenues to Meet those Needs:
After a time, in addition to reducing maintenance costs, the discussion became more focused on two main facets of the OM&R problem:

  1. Locating funding
  2. Quantifying the OM&R problem

With the understanding at that time, that any funding from the Commonwealth may have to be appropriated by the Legislature, educating the Legislature and those citizens and municipalities downstream of reclamation about the positive impacts of clean water (tax revenue, increased tourism, improved drinking water sources, etc) would be helpful in securing funding for OM&R.

The economic impact of clean water was discussed and it was suggested that work has to be done on trying to get some kind of dollar figure associated with the positive impacts of clean water so that information can be presented to citizens and government officials as reasons why funding OM&R is so very critical. 

Dave Strong suggested that baseline data is needed and told those in attendance how the Citizen’s Advisory Council (CAC) and the Mining Reclamation Advisory Board (MRAB) have brainstormed the questions, now have to go out to find the answers to the questions in order to create some kind of template for direction.  He also explained that the Mine Pool Task Force had concentrated on topics such as these and that there are agencies that could be tapped that are outside of the Department, into in order to supply information ( eg. DCNR, DCED, etc).  Basically to find ways to quantify the benefits of clean water and make that known to the Legislature and citizens.

Bernie Hoffnar put a recommendation on the floor.  The recommendation to be considered was for WPCAMR to recommend to DEP to develop a way to deal with OM&R that includes:

  • Defining the problem
  • Quantifying the dollar benefits of the increased water quality.
  • Identify ways to fund and implement the plan.

This planning group can be an existing group (ie. The OM&R workgroup) or some other existing committee, but the Department needs to organize or delegate this. 

Motion (Hoffnar/Smith) that WPCAMR will recommend to DEP the formation of 2 planning groups dealing with OM&R:

  1. To better quantify the problem [expanding on the original work of the DEP OM&R Workgroup]
  2. To better quantify the benefits of increased water quality and to identify ways to fund and implement the plan.

After discussion and clarification, question on the motion was called. Motion passed.

Dr. Hoffnar also suggested that officers of WPCAMR present this recommendation in person to Secretary McGinty as soon as possible.

Further discussion on OM&R plans, the definition of operations and maintenance ensued.  Additional discussion about how sampling costs can be prohibitive for some watershed groups and the need for a standardized protocol.

Motion: (Eckenrode/Hoffnar)  for WPCAMR to recommend to DEP that a workgroup to develop a protocol for sampling for passive treatment systems. Passed.

Mr. Golden said that Greg Philips is working on the WPCAMR Anniversary celebration for 2007 at St. Vincent College and that they are looking for suggestions for and help with the following:

  • Lists of invitees
  • Historical information relating to WPCAMR
  • Recollections from the past 25 years.

 Mr. Golden requested a motion for WPCAMR to contribute up to $1,000 from the general fund for the anniversary celebration.

Motion (Beck/Bowes) to allow WPCAMR to spend up to $1,000 on the anniversary celebration.  Passed.

Those desiring to help with the Anniversary celebration, get in touch with Greg Philips.

Tentative schedule for WPCAMR meetings in 2007 presented.  Temporarily tabled.

Motion (Vatter) to adjourn (at approximately 1:45 pm) .  Passed.

Meeting minutes taken and assembled by Andy McAllister, WPCAMR Watershed Coordinator.