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A proud day for a West Virginia trout stream

Posted: Monday, Apr 25th, 2011

Eric Coberly, P.E. Chief, WVDEP Abandoned Mine Lands (left) helps Leroy Staley, President of Save The Tygart Watershed Association (right) turn the valve that sets the Doser into operation. Doser machines, have been set up on for tributaries of Three Fork Creek, in order to dump acid-neutralizing alkaline materials into the streams, in hopes of bringing the dead stream back to life.

Nearly forty people made the trek to Pell School Road in Preston County Thursday, as the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and Save The Tygart Watershed Association (STTWA) gathered with representatives from other organizations and many local dignitaries, for the grand unveiling of a new system that will help restore Three Fork Creek to life-sustaining status.

Dead, for over fifty years, Three Fork Creek was once a thriving stream that provided for numerous living species. Once known as a pristine trout stream, Three Fork Creek lost the ability to sustain aquatic life due to acid mine drainage from pre-law mining operations.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) program is funding the $750,000 project, which aims to restore 21 miles of the trout stream in Preston and Taylor counties.

Three Fork Creek is the largest source of acid mine drainage entering the Tygart Valley River, and it has been the goal of STTWA to help restore this stream since the groups inception ten years ago.

Four lime doser machines, have been installed at the headwaters of Three Fork Creek. The lime doser machines will dump acid-neutralizing alkaline materials into Three Fork’s tributaries.

The machines have been installed at South Fork of Birds Creek; North Fork of Birds Creek; Squires Creek; and Raccoon Creek.

The site contains a large concrete pad, a lime doser, a hopper and a housing unit. Water is fed through 36-inch pipes upstream of the machine, and sloped down through apparatus. The doser then ads the acid-neutralizing alkaline materials, to the water, as it passes through and back into the stream.

“This is a great day for West Virginia,” stated STTWA President Leroy Stanley. “This is a direct intervention. They said that it couldn’t be done, and that Three Fork Creek would be dead forever.”

Officials say that we could see a change in the stream, in a small way, in as little as thirty-days. Insects and microorganisms should start growing in the stream making it sustainable for more aquatic life forms.

“The goal is to restore Three Fork Creek to an active aquatic life stream,” stated Eric Coberly, P.E. Chief, WVDEP Abandoned Mine Lands.

Coberly stated that there are now seven or eight active dosers installed throughout the state. He further stated that the funding is provided by an account, which was set aside just for mine reclamation.

West Virginia’s AML program will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the dosers, as well as for some of the post-treatment water quality monitoring on the stream.

In attendance for the event were members of Trout Unlimited, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Preston County Commission, the Preston County Solid Waste Authority, Newburg Rotary Club, the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Grafton City Manager Kevin Stead and Finance Clerk Larry Richman, Delegate to the 42nd District Mike Manypenny, Don Stamm of Lime Doser Consulting, L.L.C., Aquafix Systems and Doug Vincent of Breakaway, Inc.

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