Kittanning Run should be restored

When the Horseshoe Curve three-reservoir system was created more than a century ago, few would have realized this complex had the future ability to supply Altoona with an additional significant supply of water.

A large volume of Altoona’s water presently originates from the Glen White Run that flows beside the Curve car tunnel into the Kittanning Point Reservoir. At one time, it was severely polluted, degrading 3.8 miles of waterway.

However, in 1995 the Horseshoe Curve Resources Coalition was formed to discuss the potential restoration of Glen White and Kittanning Run Watersheds. The group decided to begin the Glen White project in 1999, according to an Altoona Water Authority Case Study.

Extensive passive surface vegetation, rock-lined channels, treatment ponds and sediment basins were constructed to control eight abandoned mine drainage sites. Completed in 2002, the results have been amazing.

Glen White Run was completely transformed. Once heavily polluted with heavy metals and devoid of aquatic life, today mayflies, caddisflies, crayfish, etc. are found in the stream, and heavy metals are barely detectable.

This higher quality water is then treated more easily at the Horseshoe Curve Water Treatment Plant. Management at the AWA has continued excellent field work maintaining this passive treatment of acid-mine drainage water.

Yet Kittanning Run was never reconstructed due to the steep land incline above the Horseshoe Curve toward the village of Coupon and the costs involved with revitalizing this stream.

With the knowledge gained from passive treatment of acid mine drainage and eliminating the high land walls, there is a strong possibility all of the water flowing from Kittanning Run, while presently bypassing the three reservoirs, can be diverted for future utilization.

One major problem is land ownership. If the city of Altoona and the AWA ever have the opportunity to purchase land for this major stream resource project, they should take advantage of the good fortuity because water will always be a major necessity for our area.

The AWA presently maintains 11 reservoirs, servicing 12 municipalities with an excellent reputation for water quality.

There is a saying, “Believe in your dreams and create your own reality.”

Restoring Kittanning Run could happen with strong leadership to make Altoona a reasonably drought-proof community.

William Schirf