Schuylkill River Heritage Area receives more than $169,000 in grants from Exelon Nuclear

POTTSTOWN — The Schuylkill River Heritage Area has received $169,149 from Exelon Nuclear’s Limerick Generating Station to bolster the Schuylkill River Watershed Restoration Fund—a fund used to improve water quality in the river and its tributaries.

The money was awarded Tuesday to two non-profit agencies for projects that will mitigate abandoned mine drainage (AMD) and agricultural pollution.

Exelon Nuclear has now contributed more than $750,000 over the four years that the program has been in existence.  The annual fund is part of a demonstration project for what is known as the water supply program at Exelon Nuclear’s Limerick Generating Station. That program is under the purview of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC).

The Schuylkill River Heritage Area oversees the fund, distributing money annually to non-profit organizations and government agencies for projects that will enhance water quality and quantity in the Schuylkill River Watershed.

“This program has allowed us to fund several important projects over the past few years that have improved the health of the Schuylkill River Watershed,” said Kurt Zwikl, Executive Director of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area. “Our partnership with Limerick Generating Station demonstrates the value Exelon Nuclear places on the river and our community.”

This year, two projects dealing with agricultural improvements and abandoned mine drainage restoration were selected. Both projects will benefit the entire watershed because they reduce the amount of run-off and pollution that enters creeks, and ultimately, the river, which is a source of drinking water for over one million people.

This year’s project awards are:

Berks County Conservancy – Guntz Farm Agricultural Project – $75,000

This project will implement Agriculture Best Management Practices on the Guntz Farm, which is located at the confluence of the Little Manatawny and Manatawny Creeks. Project scope will include construction of a concrete manure storage facility, streambank fencing and cattle crossings, as well as barnyard stormwater runoff controls. Purpose of the project is to alleviate streambank erosion and to prevent manure from entering the creeks.

Schuylkill Headwaters Association – Wheeler Run Project – $100,000

This project will replace the Wheeler Run Flume from the Pine Knot Mine, Schuylkill County’s largest contributor of abandoned mine drainage. The existing wooden flume will be replaced with a large-diameter plastic corrugated pipe. Large rip rap will also be used at the bottom of the flume to redefine the channel and slow the water’s velocity. Purpose of the project is to keep surface water from entering into the Pine Knot Mine Pool, thereby reducing non-point source pollution.

Recipients were selected by a committee made up of representatives from Exelon, the Delaware River Basin Commission, Philadelphia Water Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Environmental Protection, Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and the Schuylkill River Heritage Area.

In order to further protect and improve the watershed, the Schuylkill River Heritage Area and Exelon hope to encourage more corporations to contribute to the program in the future.

“Limerick Generating Station is happy to once again be a partner with the community and environmental stewardship is something we take pride in at Exelon and the station,” said Chris Mudrick, Limerick Site Vice President.  “We are pleased with the positive impact this program has on the Schuylkill River and we look forward to continuing to partner with the Schuylkill River Heritage Area on this and other projects.”

Here’s how the water supply program works:

Exelon pulls water from the Schuylkill River to support Limerick Generating Station’s cooling water needs. However, current DRBC regulations allow Exelon to withdraw water only when the flows are adequate and the temperature is below 59 degrees.  In the past, Delaware River water was pumped 40 miles to the Limerick plant, generally from about May 1 to November 1, due to these restrictions.   Through the Water Supply Program, Exelon has been demonstrating to the DRBC that Exelon can use various water sources to augment the Schuylkill River flow, and eliminate the temperature restriction. This reduces Limerick’s dependence on the Delaware River. Since this is more cost effective, a portion of all the money saved is redirected into the Schuylkill River Watershed Restoration Fund. Exelon’s yearly contribution is based on the amount of water that is not required to be pumped from the Delaware River or other sources.

Posted by Laura Catalano

Staff Writer
Schuylkill River National & State Heritage Area
140 College Drive
Pottstown, PA 19464
v 484-945-0200  f 484-945-0204
lcatalano@schuylkillriver.org

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