Vintondale Site Sign Text
Below, the full text of the informational and educational signs that appear throughout the AMD&ART site at Vintondale.
1, 1a) AMD Treatment System
The acid mine drainage (AMD) flowing into this pond comes from an old coal mine approximately one-half mile away. Groundwater that flows through the abandoned mine becomes acidic and dissolves metals such as iron, aluminum, and manganese from the exposed surfaces. Throughout our region, contaminated water from abandoned mines flows untreated into many of our streams.
Acid mine drainage (AMD) destroys the normal ecology of the stream. Metals from AMD coat the streambed, making it impossible for bottom-dwelling organisms to survive. This kills the foundation of the food chain, so there is no food for larger aquatic animals, such as fish.
2) Acid Pool
The Acid Pool is the beginning of the AMD treatment system. The discharge flowing from the pipes comes from the old Vinton Colliery Company Mine No. 3 and has high levels of iron and aluminum. Notice the orange color of the iron oxide (rust) settling out of AMD when it reacts with the limestone lining the pond.
3) Wetland Treatment Ponds
- These three ponds are wetland treatment cells. The plants and compost in the ponds slow the water and promote biological activity, making the water less acidic, allowing the metals to settle out. There are three wetland treatment cells here to assist in the removal of metals, especially aluminum.
6) Vertical Flow Pond
- In this pond, oxygen is removed from the water by decaying organic material. The water then seeps through a thick bed of limestone that neutralizes the acidity. The vertical flow process prevents the iron from coating the limestone, making the AMD treatment system more efficient.
7) Final Settling Pond
- The water mixes with air as it enters Pond 6. The added oxygen creates iron oxide (rust) that settles to the bottom of the pond. The water exiting the treatment system is cleansed of metals and supports aquatic life in the created wetlands you see to your right.
8) Wetland Water Quality
- Wetlands are excellent water purifiers. Wetlands improve water quality by removing dissolved pollutants and converting them into stable solids that are buried, along with sediments, in layers of wetland soil. The pollutants are further chemically reduced over time by bacterial action.
9) Wetlands as Habitat
- Wetlands are among the most biologically rich and diverse ecosystems in the world and are home to a large variety of fish, amphibians, insects, and birds. You can find more animals and plants per acre in a wetland than in any other kind of habitat.
10, 10a, 10b) Wonders of Wetlands
- Wetlands provide the perfect environment for many birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and insects. Wetlands are important to endangered species. Thirty-five percent of all plants and animals considered threatened or endangered need wetlands to survive.
- This wetland was designed for maximum wildlife benefit. The native plant species, range of water depths, areas of slow moving water, fallen trees, and bird boxes attract a variety of wildlife to this area.
Wetlands serve many important functions.
- Flood Control: Wetlands act like a sponge, soaking up excess water
- Water Table Recharge: Water soaks through wetlands to replace groundwater
- Pollution Control: Biological activity removes pollutants and retains them
- Recreation: Wetlands provide great areas for fishing, canoeing, hiking, and bird watching
- Habitat: Wildlife and plants can flourish in the diverse landscape of wetlands
11) Coke Oven Path (2 sides)
- Take a walk down this quiet trail to get a closer view of wildlife in the wetlands. The trail leads out over the foundations of old coke ovens that once stretched across this industrial site.
- Active in the early 1900s, these beehive-shaped coke ovens baked coal at high temperatures for a long time, with little oxygen. This removed impurities from the coal, leaving almost pure carbon, or "coke." Coke burns much hotter and longer than coal and was used in the steel furnaces of Pittsburgh and Johnstown.
12, 13) Litmus Garden
- This "Litmus Garden" contains groves of native trees and shrubs, chosen for their hardiness, habitat benefit, and autumn leaf color. The garden's fall foliage color reflects the cleansing of the water in the ponds and is a metaphor for this process. In fall, as you walk from the beginning of the system, you may see brilliant red leaves, changing to orange, then yellow, and then a clean blue-green at the end of the treatment system.
14) Wetlands as Water Purifiers (by natural wetlands)
- Scientists discovered that contaminated water from abandoned mines was being improved by flowing through natural wetlands like these. From this research emerged the potential for passive treatment for Acid Mine Drainage, seen in the nearby treatment system.
- These natural wetlands effectively cleanse many pollutants from water, including some of the metals in acid mine drainage (AMD). Water flowing slowly through wetlands undergoes chemical changes as a result of biological activity. These changes improve water quality by removing dissolved pollutants and converting them into stable solids that are captured and retained by the wetland.
Funding for this part of the Vintondale AMD&ART Remediation System came from the funding sources noted in the documents below.
Documents are available in PDF format, viewable in the free Adobe Reader, and in Microsoft® Word format.
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