The Aultman Watershed Association for Restoring the Environment (AWARE) was started in February 2000 by concerned citizens from Indiana County who felt compelled to clean up the Aultmans Run Watershed. This area, nearly 30 square miles in total, empties into the Conemaugh River behind the Army Corps of Engineers dam, and it has abundant potential as a habitat and recreation corridor. This potential has been threatened by pollution, hazards, illegal dumping, and eyesores typical of historic mining activities.
Through the dedication of its members and partners, and the support of state and county institutions and representatives, AWARE has made great strides. A 2001 Growing Greener grant enabled AWARE to complete a watershed assessment. Fourteen acid mine drainage (AMD) sites were monitored, which provided the association with a solid base of information for subsequent remediation projects. Their first is a passive wetland treatment system constructed in 2003 to remove iron from a discharge passing beneath State Route 286, south of Aultman. This Growing Greener-funded success typically lowers iron concentrations from around 12-14 mg/l to 2-4 mg/l where the treated water enters Aultmans Run.
The S.R. 286 wetland project was also the first major collaboration with Stream Restoration Incorporated. Awards for design and construction from Growing Greener (2004, 2008, 2010) and the County Environmental Initiative (2006) ensure that severe sources of AMD pollution will one day be healed on the tributaries of Reeds Run and Neal Run.