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State grants to help keep Armstrong, Westmoreland streams clean

| Monday, March 4, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

State grants totaling close to $332,000 will help stabilize some local creeks and clean up local waterways in Armstrong and Westmoreland county communities.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Growing Greener program and other environmental programs will pay for watershed improvement projects totaling more than $18.7 million in 78 projects across the state.

“These grants allow the department to provide funding to organizations like conservation districts or watershed associations that would otherwise not have the means to do this important work in local watersheds,” said Amanda Witman, a DEP spokeswoman in Harrisburg.

Local projects include reducing manure-laden runoff from several farms in Kittanning, South Buffalo and Parks townships into local waterways.

The grants require at least a 15 percent match.

“We're providing a stable area to contain and collect manure and manage (both) nutrient run-off and storm water,” said Jessica Schaub, agricultural conservation technician with the Armstrong Conservation District. “The grant money is extremely helpful because it puts these agricultural best practices on the ground that normally farmers couldn't do on their own,” she said.

Grants include $147,800 toward a project at a Kittanning Township farm to construct a stabilized feeding area for animals with manure storage and stream bank fencing along Campbell Run.

Another $17,000 grant will install gutters, downspouts and other erosion control devices for water draining from a South Buffalo farm into Hill Run.

A number of projects paid for by a $97,000 grant will help stabilize and clean up Carnahan Run in Parks. The DEP has designated Carnahan as impaired because of mine pollution, erosion and agricultural run-off, according to David Beale, watershed specialist with the Armstrong Conservation District.

The conversation district has already identified mine discharges along the stream and installed passive treatment systems.

The Carnahan Run watershed extends into Bethel and Kiskiminetas townships.

The grant helps pay for erosion control along the stream banks, including a section where a private bridge collapsed into the stream, according Beale.

“The project will prevent siltation and sedimentation, which is one of the main problems in the stream in terms of fish habitat,” Beale said.

In Westmoreland County, $70,000 will go toward projects in Washington and Bell townships benefitting the water quality of Beaver Run.

According to Witman, the grant will pay to install controls on existing dirt and gravel roads such as road culverts to minimize erosion and sedimentation.

The grant will also pay for reforestation on active and fallow farm fields.

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

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