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DEP to address Little Schuylkill River this week

Members of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will be in Tamaqua this week to discuss a problem with the Little Schuylkill River.

The waterway can turn orange from time to time due to possible acid mine drainage after snow or rain.

But last month, the water turned extremely orange.

“I am concerned about the environmental impact of the contamination especially since fish are stocked in that area,” said state Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-124. “I will continue to monitor the situation and work with DEP to mitigate this issue.”

The waterway runs along Route 209, parallel to the highway at the former Jamesway Plaza and continuing several blocks. It then crosses beneath East Broad Street at the Tamaqua Municipal Building, then beneath Greenwood Street and eventually empties into the Little Schuylkill River near Cedar Street.

Residents living nearby contacted the DEP and the Pennsylvania Fish and Game Commission. Knowles and state Sen. Dave Argall penned a letter to the DEP last month.

“We know that this creek has been polluted for generations - it’s near the senator’s childhood home and he explored it many times with friends in the 1960s, much to his parents’ dismay,” the letter noted.

“Please review this matter ASAP and let us know how we can work together to resolve this issue in the near future. If funding is an issue, we stand fully prepared to make this a priority issue in the upcoming Senate budget debate and Appropriations Committee hearings.”

DEP personnel are expected to make a site visit and attend the meeting scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday at Tamaqua Borough Hall.

“Sen. Argall and I are requesting help in finding a solution through the Growing Greener Program, which has worked with many different watershed volunteers, government agencies and businesses to remove acid mine drainage through public-private partnerships across the commonwealth,” Knowles said.

The Little Schuylkill River, Tamaqua, is bright orange and contaminated from possible acid mine drainage. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO