As a Riverkeeper, he advocates for improved water quality and conservation.
When I learned of the Follow the H2O Running Challenge, I immediately consulted him.
First, he told me that Indian Creek, a Yough tributary, is the source of the water we drink at home.
Well, I have already biked and run along and even kayaked parts of Indian Creek.
I wanted something new.
“What else?” I asked him. “Is there something more I could do?”
“The headwaters,” he said. “You can run amongst the water that feeds into Indian Creek.”
At that, I asked him to create a route for me for this running challenge adventure.
by Eric Harder
Our drinking water is supplied by Indian Creek Valley Water Authority (ICWA).
Service area. Their service area includes a portion of the Laurel Highlands located in southwest Pennsylvania. Community. Communities including Ohiopyle Borough, Donegal, and Westmoreland townships are located within its boundaries. Size. The ICWA serves a 140-square-mile service area. Customers. There are approximately 2,600 customers who depend on ICWA for water. Additionally, there are hundreds of thousands of visitors who use this water when enjoying Ohiopyle State Park.
Our drinking water originates from two types of sources:
The surface water intake is only used when seasonal flows are low or in drought conditions. The water is withdrawn from Mill Run Reservoir, treated, and pumped into the supply lines that serve our area.
Groundwater. The majority of our water comes from groundwater. ICWA utilizes three groundwater sources: the Neals Run Well, Pritts Spring and Grimm Spring. The water supplied from these sources originates in areas with low or no development and primarily heavily forested, which means that the water is exceptionally clean in its original state.
A Follow the H2O duathlon
This was a running challenge, but I threw a twist into it and added mountain biking, turning it into an off-road duathlon. I ran the Laurel Highlands 50k trail race just 13 days before undergoing this challenge and wasn’t quite ready to tackle the almost 17 miles on foot only.
The nearly nine-mile mountain biking route started at the main stew of Indian Creek and followed the headwater streams to the divide between Indian Creek and Shafer Run.
Shafer Run serves as a source of water for users of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (LHHT) and flows into Laurel Hill Creek, the next watershed over from Indian Creek.
This route followed the flow of surface water that feeds our drinking water.
I biked the entire Mountain Streams Trail (MST) in the uphill direction, starting at the far left side of the map, and then came out onto Tunnel Road.