Developed in 1997-98, the MRIP consists of three passive wetland systems situated on 20 acres of Saint Vincent Archabbey Property.
The most visible and severe problem identified in the Loyalhanna Watershed was the discharges from abandoned deep mines. Two of the affected streams –Fourmile Run and Monastery Run – were the first major sources of mine drainage into Loyalhanna Creek and were responsible for the physical degradation and elimination of nearly all aquatic life in 0.8 mile of Monastery Run and 1.1 miles of Fourmile Run. Below the mouth of Monastery Run, the aquatic diversity and biomass of Loyalhanna Creek’s mainstream were significantly reduced for the remaining 17.4 miles to its confluence with the Conemaugh River.
When all the wetlands within the MRIP were completed in 1998, the focus then became Education and Outreach. The community had always know about the orange "Sulfur" creeks, but didn't necessarily understand the reason or treatment. The first step was educating the community that the orange ponds were a good thing and their streams would be cleaner, then the next focus was the young children.
Wetland #3 was designed with education in mind. It is very accessible with wide walking paths, and a visible and dramatic color change throughout the wetland demonstrating the process. Wetland #3 has been used to provide hands-on, outdoor educational experiences for undergraduate courses and K-12 programming since 1999.
Since that time, much effort has been put into developing activities and curriculum to teach children and adults about Abandoned Mine Drainage.
Since the installation of the systems, the Loyalhanna Creek has seen significant improvement in water quality and aquatic diversity. Saint Vincent College has maintained the systems by seeking various funds when necessary to rehabilitate different parts of the wetlands.
| Figure 1: Loyalhanna Creek 1997
|| Figure 2: Loyalhanna Creek 2002