CGM Hosts Watershed Restoration Workshop

Amid federal funding increases for watershed restoration efforts, the question of how to best utilize these funds for the improvement of Pennsylvania’s natural environment is a vital one. To address it, the Center for Governance and Markets hosted the "Restoring Mine-Impaired Watersheds: Experiences, Lessons, and Next Steps" workshop on September 26 in the William Pitt Union. 

With over 50 people in attendance, the workshop brought together policymakers, ecologists, conservationists, Pitt students, and other local experts and practitioners to discuss approaches and resources to restore local watersheds and how to overcome the many barriers that these practitioners face. 

A watershed is a land area that channels rainfall and snowmelt to creeks, streams, and rivers, and eventually to outflow points such as reservoirs, bays, and the ocean. Watersheds play a central role in agriculture, pollution and runoff management, and other essential areas. 

The event elevated unique perspectives and experiences regarding restoration of mine-impaired watersheds throughout the state in hopes of strengthening the restoration community and fostering understanding of its work and effects.  

Speakers included: 

  • John Dawes - Executive Director, The Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds
  • Eric Harder - Riverkeeper, Mountain Watershed Association
  • Eric Chapman - Senior Director of Aquatic Science, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
  • Mike Cook - President, Ben's Creek Canoe Club
  • Thomas Clark - Mine Drainage Program Coordinator, Susquehanna River Basin Commission
  • Brian Bradley - Director, PA DEP Department of Abandoned Mine Reclamation
  • Joseph Pizarchik - Former Director, Department of Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement

GSPIA Associate Professor Jeremy Weber convened the event to leverage his experience and expertise in the policy and economics of environmental and energy issues.  

Throughout the day, one theme became abundantly clear: Healthy watersheds are essential for healthy ecosystems, and that affects us all. Fortunately, while funding can be limited, there are innovative approaches being implemented, studied, and improved upon that can drastically improve and restore these vital ecosystems, but collaboration among experts and practitioners is key. 

“The issue is important because it affects so many communities,” Weber said. “About 5,500 miles of PA streams are impaired because of acid mine drainage. Moreover, this is a topic that affects many states, and PA has been a leader in innovated ways to address it.” 


Redefining a Community Through Conservation of our Waterways (Mike Cooke)

Opportunities for Further Work and Advancement (Joseph Pizarchik)

Abandoned Mine Reclamation (AMD) Impacted Watershed Restoration, History, Lessons and Future of the AMD Program in BAMR (Jon Smoyer)

Enhancing Clean Water Policy & Problem Solving (John Dawes)

Anthracite Region Mine Drainage Remediation Strategy (Thomas J. Clark)

Mountain Watershed Association - Youghiogheny Riverkeeper (Eric Harder)

Attendee Directory