HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Combating Climate Change in Luzerne County, environmentalists are pushing the importance of restoring degraded lands, including abandoned mines.

There are a lot of abandoned coal mines in Northeastern PA, a treatment center in Hanover Township, works to clear water from toxic waste and could benefit from secured funding in the stream act.

“Acid mine drainage cleanup is not something you can clean up once and then you’re done, you need to treat the water forever,” said Jessica Arriens, Program Manager of Climate & Energy Policy at the National Wildlife Federation

Cleaning up acid mine drainage to protect people and wildlife. That’s the ongoing effort in Luzerne County at the Askam Borehole Acid Mine Drainage Treatment Center.

The pond is filled with bright orange water. The strange sight, means the system is working.

Iron residue collects here, Instead of flowing downstream into the Susquehanna River.

The oxidizer based system allows the iron to settle out much quicker.

“The end result here, that we’d like to see is this water that’s behind us not be orange. We’d like it to be crystal clear, we’d like it to be clean, we’d like to see fish,” Executive Director of the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation Bobby Hughes stated.

The system is monitored by Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation.

In September, the National Wildlife Federation released a report, highlighting the need to reclaim abandoned mines and other degraded lands.

“The problem of degraded lands in this country is really vast, there are over 4 million degraded lands in the US, including millions of acres in Pennsylvania alone,” Arriens explained.

The groups Monday toured the Askam Borehole AMD Treatment Center and a Stream Channel Restoration Project, the EPSY Run Stream,A tributary to the Nanticoke Creek, just up the road from the Askam Borehole.

Mining activiy caused the stream to disappear underground.

“The stream restoration aspect of that project was allowing the water to continue to flow back to the surface where it normally should be instead of into an old abandoned stripping pit that then goes into an underground network of mines,” Hughes noted.

Now environmentalists have their eyes set on a key bill that sits in the US Senate, The Stream Act.

“Allows states to use money they are already getting or will be getting from the bipartisan infrastructure law for abandoned mines clean up, to put a portion of that money aside for acid mine drainage cleanup,” Arriens commented.

The National Wildlife Federation hopes to see the Stream Act pass at the end of this year.

It would enable sites like the Askam Borehole AMD Treatment Center to continue to operate.