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Vartan M. Kalagian



Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement
mkalagian@osmre.gov
(317) 226-6700

Vartan M. Kalagian, a Reclamation Specialist in Indianapolis, Indiana, with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, used a partnership-based approach to develop a plan to restore a lake in a very cost-effective manner. Augusta Lake is part of the State of Indiana's Sugar Ridge Fish and Wildlife Refuge Area. Formed by impounded acid mine drainage in the 1950's, the water had a pH of 2.54 - almost as acidic as vinegar - which cannot support aquatic life.

Vartan M. Kalagian and Assistant Secretary Lynn Scarlett
Vartan M. Kalagian and Assistant Secretary Lynn Scarlett

Mr. Kalagian acted as the project manager in a successful, cooperative effort to neutralize the lake's acidity. This project, sponsored by the Patoka South Fork Watershed Steering Committee and OSM's Appalachian Clean Streams Initiative, involved eighteen local, State, and federal agency partners. Mr. Kalagian solicited a local business, AirGas, to donate tanker loads of highly alkaline calcium hydroxide, a by-product of acetylene gas production, and a local coal company has provided alkaline chemicals. Boy Scout and Girl Scout Troops, and at-risk youth groups helped construct sandbag wetlands and distribute bags of soda ash briquettes to treat acid water. It is estimated that it will take less than ten years to completely restore Lake Augusta. But for now, life has begun to return, including plants, frogs and snakes. By bringing in many different community groups, local residents are very appreciative of the effort and now have a greater sense of stewardship in the surrounding area.