The Chartiers Creek Watershed is loosely separated into an upper and lower section based on county boundaries. The Lower Chartiers Creek Watershed exists mainly in Allegheny County, in western Pennsylvania and is outlined in green.
The Chartiers Creek Watershed was historically polluted by industry due to poor environmental practices. To this day, it continues to be an impaired watershed. Our group is currently studying a common source of water pollution in the Lower Chartiers Creek Watershed, abandoned mine drainage (AMD).
Abandoned mine drainage occurs when old abandoned coal mines fill up with water and form underground pools. Chemical reactions in these pools acidify the water (causing low pH) and cause metals like iron and aluminum to dissolve and become suspended. The water from the underground pools eventually comes to the surface as abandoned mine drainage. Abandoned mine drainage may be acidic and is typically rich in metals. When this water eventually enters our streams and rivers, it results in poor water quality and pollutes aquatic habitats by introducing excessive amounts of metals (enough to be toxic to most aquatic life).