The main water source at Johnstown Flood National Memorial, the South Fork of the Little Conemaugh River, flows through the park. Unfortunately, acidic mine drainage from the Saint Michael and Beaverdale areas pollutes the river upstream. High levels of aluminum, iron, and sulfates have colored the riverbed and surrounding banks white, orange and yellow. While the water is too polluted to support fish, it is not entirely lifeless. Researchers have found evidence that the river supports some forms of life such as pollution-tolerant insects and bacteria. Efforts are underway to remediate the mine pollution upstream of the park, which will improve the future water quality within the park.
Did You Know?
The Dam was originally built by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a reservoir for the canal basin in Johnstown. It took from 1838-1853 to construct and fill, yet the canal system was obsolete by 1854.