The Wingfield Pines Abandoned Mine Drainage site is located in Upper St. Clair, Allegheny County. In the 1940s, the land was strip mined and later transformed into Wingfield Pines golf course and swim club.
Twenty years passed before the Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) obtained the land. The contaminated water from the old mine freely drained into Chartiers Creek, along with high
contents of iron. ALT initiated plans to reclaim and restore the land, including purifying the water that was deposited into the creek.
The groundwater becomes contaminated as it passes through the abandoned mine, dissolving portions of the iron still present in the mines. The ferrous iron becomes ferric iron when the water comes into contact with oxygen. An orange tint results when the iron becomes solid and falls out of the water, leaving deposits on the bottom of the ponds.
Passive drainage systems use gravity to slowly drive the water through five settling ponds, plus a wetland. The water moves at a slow enough pace to maximize contact with atmospheric oxygen, which induces iron precipitation. It takes approximately 48 hours for the water to flow from its entry point in Pond 1 to the outflow point at the end of the wetland area. The 8-acre network of settlement ponds and wetlands eliminates 99 percent of the iron oxide from entering Chartiers Creek.
"Environmental field-testing and analysis is particularly useful for developing good scientific habits. This project demonstrated the living applications of unit conversion, mathematical manipulation, research, and organization. The digestion of data following collection utilizes mathematics, biology, chemistry, engineering, and, most of all, patience. This project also sharpened my leadership skills. Managing multiple personnel, schedules, and various data implements was invaluable to my career development. Most of all, this project enhanced my critical thinking skills, as the scientific analysis of environmental processes contained within a world bound by the orders of imperfection helped me realize the necessity of critical thinking. Wingfield Pines represents more than a web page with contributions from students, land-trust board members, and instructors. It symbolizes a legacy of educational and personal development."
-Logan Hyland, Former Duquesne CERE Student
"My Community service at Wingfield Pines has influenced me by opening up a doorway to me to continue to serve my community. My experience in Science at the Service of Society has made me want to find even more ways I can help my community, and it proved to me that community service is fun! The people I worked with positively affected me during this community service project; their dedication to the project and their enthusiasm for being there was contagious. It also helped that the park was beautiful and the community day held on April 12th, 2014 was a picturesque sunny spring day.
This project has changed my commitment because I was able to first hand experience the importance of community service in preventing environmental degradation. At Wingfield Pines you get a first hand experience of environmental degradation from the abandoned mine drainage and how the community service project has impacted the region and improved the environment. The fact that we found fish up to Pond 2 was ground-breaking proving that the system is working and the water is getting safer for wild-life. Overall, it was a very gratifying experience."
-Sara Hecker, Biology 2015
"The service learning experience at Wingfield Pines integrated a numerous academic objectives for the Service Learning course through interacting with members of the community, we were able to educate them as to the workings of Wingfield Pines so that they can realize the potential impact and sustainability of the project. For instance, the many people walking their dogs asked what we were doing and we took time to explain that we were from Duquesne University and we were sampling the water to track its quality. Coincidentally, as part of my Super Lab III course, we worked with water quality and completed experiments using water collected at Wingfield Pines. Using this theme of water quality, the members of Super Lab presented two sessions at an after school tutoring program at the Center of Life in Hazelwood. . Therefore, Working at Wingfield Pines for service learning is another step in my lifelong pursuit of service to others through the sciences. As a future doctor, I will continue to perform service to others through scientific, medical, and community based means."
-Christopher Ignatz, Biology 2014
"Wingfield Pines was an opportunity to serve the community and develop personal skills by applying the education I learned over my time at Duquesne University. By taking knowledge learned at Duquesne University such as electro-fishing, water chemistry collection, analysis, and more, myself and students aided Allegheny Land Trust with our service that would otherwise cost them. While at first hand appearing a small task, upon reflection I realized the greater role I played as the work done goes to maintaining and improving the system, which will aid the people who visit recreationally, improve the environment of Chartiers Creek, and save the surrounding communities money. Not only was the work able to improve the community or my scientific skills, it also improved my personal skills in becoming a servant leader. I was able to take on a role in aiding, teaching, and observing the growth of fellow students by serving with them. My service with Wingfield Pines has lead me to take on larger roles at Duquesne, and to seek out more ways to apply my service and self."
-Christopher Garbark, B.S. Biology, May 2014