About the Watershed
The Sunday Creek Watershed is located in Appalachian Ohio and consists of mostly rural areas with several small communities and villages throughout. Portions of the Wayne National Forest also run through the watershed with the dominant topography being a mixture of steep rolling hills and flat, meandering flood plain along the streams. Covering 139 square miles (88,775 acres) the Sunday Creek Watershed encompasses part of Perry, Athens, and Morgan Counties. Sunday Creek measures 27 miles long and starts flowing north of Corning and flows south through Chauncey where it enters into the Hocking River. The Sunday Creek Watershed is primarily wooded (78%), 38% of the watershed has been deep mined for coal, and 15% of the land is public, owned by the Wayne National Forest.
Culturally, the region boomed when the demand for coal was high and mining became the dominant economic force throughout the area. Red clay was also found to be abundant in the soil and brick factories began to appear in every community, with Appalachian bricks gaining a worldwide reputation for quality. However, these industries have all but disappeared from Southeast Ohio, leaving scars on the people and places of the watershed with acid mine drainage polluting our creeks as well as abandoned or economically depressed communities with few career opportunities for the current generation of families.
Congo Subsidence/Stream Capture Project
This project was completed in 2004 and funded by an OSM Appalachian Clean Stream Initiative Grant totaling $90,426. The project reclaimed a 72-acre tributary in the Congo sub-watershed located west of Perry County Road 68, Monroe Township. Treatment filled the stream capture and re-channeled the stream to promote positive drainage to Congo Run, eliminating its capture into a deep mine complex. By eliminating this surface water from entering the deep mine, an estimated 8,000 cubic feet daily or 3 million cubic feet per year will be returned to Congo Run and will reduce the production of acid mine drainage (AMD) in the mine complex.
Pine Run Stream Capture and Subsidence Closing
Pine Run Stream Capture and Subsidence Closing was completed in April of 2007. The total cost for this project was $129,171, with $58,831 of that coming from 319 federal funds and $70,340 from ODNR state matching funds. This project closed one stream capture, two subsidence holes and created a natural channel for positive drainage. All of the water flowing in the stream during normal conditions enters into the stream capture. The feature is estimated to capture 50 million gallons of water per year, has a pH of 6.5, conductivity of 180 u/S, and was net alkaline by 40 mg/l.
Maximum buffering capacity will result when precipitation events are conveyed to Pine Run. Preliminary data at the downstream site suggests that flow (cfs), pH and alkalinity loadings (lb/day) have increased downstream of the restored tributary’s confluence with Pine Run. These results match the expected downstream water quality outcomes of the stream capture project due to the influx of clean, net-alkaline water now being conveyed into Pine Run.
Rodger’s Hollow Stream Capture Project
The Rodger’s Hollow Stream Capture Project, completed in December of 2007 and funded by an OEPA 319 Implementation Grant, is working as designed. The total cost for this project was $428,218; $310,998 was supplied through the 319 federal grant program. After the multiple stream captures were closed and the stream channel was rerouted away from a high wall, the data proves the project’s effectiveness. Clean, net alkaline water stays on the surface and is conveyed downstream rather than entering into the underground mine and becoming acid mine drainage.
Additionally, there is an acid reduction component where the captured surface water previously discharged from the underground mine as acid mine drainage. This project is adding alkalinity and reducing acidity to the downstream subwatershed.
Rodger’s Hollow Alkaline Addition: 651-lb/day of alkalinity is now conveyed downstream as a natural, cost- effective treatment system.
Rodger’s Hollow Acid Reduction: 18.6-lb/day reduction in acidity at the known acid mine drainage discharge point.
Congo Run (CR-11/Little Hocking) Stream Capture Project
In December 2009, the Congo Run-11/Little Hocking Stream Capture Project was completed. This stream capture project is part of the Congo Run Subwatershed and is the fourth stream capture project to be completed within the Sunday Creek Watershed. The drainage area that was being captured by the subsidence feature was approximately 256 acres, which captured an estimated 94 million gallons of surface water annually. The surface water that was entering the subsidence was net alkaline and it was estimated that 219 lb/day of alkalinity was being lost through this stream capture, thus reducing Congo Run’s buffering capacity while increasing the amount of AMD being produced underground. The project consisted of sealing one primary stream capture and two secondary stream captures. Three rock channels were created that now carry the net-alkaline surface water to an impoundment that flows into Congo Run. Post- construction monitoring will begin in 2010. An OSM Clean Streams Initiative Grant was awarded to help fund this project. The final cost for the project was $197,286. Of that amount, ODNR-DMRM contributed a total of $133, 513 towards the completion of this project.
West Branch Headwaters Construction Project
Work began on the West Branch Headwaters Project in the spring of 2010. This project was funded through an OEPA 319 Grant and an OSM Clean Streams Initiative Grant. This project included two phases; Phase I of this project involved installation of four monitoring wells (installed summer of 2009), sealing of four stream captures and reclaiming a 1.28 acre gob pile (WBHW 99). Collectively, these four subsidence features captured an estimated 25-million gallons of net-alkaline surface water annually that would otherwise provide buffering capacity to the stream. Phase II included the construction of Sunday Creek’s first AMD treatment system to help treat two AMD discharges in the area (WBHW 17 and WBHW 19).
These sites are adjacent to the West Branch Headwaters main stem, which is located in the northwestern part of the Sunday Creek watershed at Section 23 of Saltlick Township, Perry County. The main goal of the West Branch Headwaters Sunday Creek Restoration Project is to reduce acidity and metal loadings. This would equate to annual acid and metal reductions of 10,731 (lb/year) and 59,787 (lb/year) respectively. ODNR-DMRM will contribute $280,080 to the $505,478 total project cost.
Corning Gob Pile Reclamation Project
The Corning Gob Pile project was completed in December of 2007. The total cost of this project was 135,069 with $130,069 coming from the federal 319-grant program. Post- construction water quality data indicated favorable downstream and discharge results. For example, at the project’s downstream sampling site, the alkalinity load (lb/day) has increased by approximately 300 lb/day when compared to pre- construction data. The high flows increased the loadings, while the net alkalinity (mg/L) concentrations remained about the same. The net acidity (mg/L) concentrations at the discharge decreased by about 40 (mg/L) after the project was completed. If this level is maintained, the downstream water quality improvement will continue.
West Rendville Stream Capture Project
ODNR-Division of Mineral Resources Management is funding this project, beginning with the survey in 2008. This 240-acre (0.38 sq. miles) capture site is associated with underground mine Py-137, which is suspected to be one of many complexes connected to the Corning discharge. This site consists of two subsidence holes, one on each branch of a small-unnamed tributary to Sunday Creek. These two subsidence holes capture an estimated 88,464,400 gallons of fresh surface water per year. Closing these subsidence holes is a high priority in Sunday Creek because of their suspected connectedness to the Corning discharge. Due to the close proximity and linked affects of the two sites, remediation of both holes is suggested at the same time.
Water Quality Data Online
The data for long-term sampling, short-term pre and post construction sampling can be accessed online at www.watersheddata.com. This website is maintained by the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. Biological data can also be accessed in the Non-Point Source Report that the Voinovich School publishes yearly.
Sunday Creek Watershed Map