CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The 2016 Environmental Awards, which honor the initiatives of organizations and individuals from across West Virginia, were presented today during a special ceremony at the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) headquarters in Charleston.
The 19 organizations, which come from 14 counties, were honored in categories ranging from Clean Energy and Water Conservation to Land Revitalization and Sewage Treatment.
“These award recipients are dedicated to promoting a healthy environment in West Virginia,” said Randy C. Huffman, WVDEP cabinet secretary. “Making sure West Virginia stays ‘Wild and Wonderful’ is a job that involves every citizen of this state, and I congratulate all of these recipients for dedicating their time to do their part.”
The 2016 Environmental Award recipients are:
- Cabinet Secretary Award: The Buffalo Creek Watershed Improvement Association (Clay County)
- Environmental Stewardship: Greg Puckett, Mercer County Commission
- Environmental Stewardship: Sajid Barlas, West Virginia Division of Highways
- Environmental Stewardship: The city of St. Albans
- Education and Community Involvement: The Mercer County Solid Waste Authority
- Education and Community Involvement: Boy Scout Troop 99 (Kanawha County)
- Education and Community Involvement: Dr. Joe Evans, Glenville State College
- Education and Community Involvement: Friends of the Hughes River (Ritchie County)
- Outstanding Litter Control: Lt. Ron Gardner, Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department
- Landuse Development: The Jefferson County Commission
- Land Revitalization: The city of Kingwood
- Environmental Partnership: Travis Bailey, Marshall University
- Environmental Partnership: The Guyandotte River Trail (Fayette County)
- Improvement to Air Quality: Orbital ATK (Mineral County)
- Water Conservation: Highland Hospital (Kanawha County)
- Clean Energy: Mary Ellen and Patrick Cassidy (First State Capitol, Ohio County)
- Municipal Stormwater: The city of Charleston
- Municipal Stormwater: The city of Fairmont
- Sewage Treatment > 400,000 GPD: The city of Parkersburg
The following is the text from the award ceremony booklet, detailing the initiatives of each organization:
SEWAGE TREATMENT >400,000 GPD
The City of Parkersburg
DEP Sponsor: Nate Wadhwa
The Parkersburg Utility Board (PUB) currently has in place an outstanding FOG (Fats, Oils, and Grease) Source Control Program. This program protects the City of Parkersburg’s collection systems, pumping stations, and treatment works from the discharge of excess FOG from food service establishments (FSEs) in its service area. It eliminates the need to haul liquid FOG to distant landfills for disposal. Accepting FOG into anaerobic digesters improves efficiency of the digester and generates an increase in digester gas production (which saves energy). In addition, the liquid FOG is converted into a sludge that can be land applied. Therefore, being a good environmental steward, Parkersburg’s approach and commitment to effective pretreatment of its FOG Source Control Program is a win for everyone.
Parkersburg’s Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) receives wastewater from a variety of domestic and non-domestic sources (including commercial businesses such as restaurants, laundries, car washes, dentist’s offices, etc.) and industry (such as hospitals and landfills). Receiving a complex mixture of wastewater from a variety of sources, most of these wastewater sources are connected to the sewer system. However, wastes may also be transported by truck to the WWTP by waste haulers. Such hauled waste may include domestic septage, non-domestic septage such as grease trap waste, chemical toilet waste, and landfill leachate, each of which have designated points of discharge within the WWTP.
Waste Haulers eligible to receive a valid Waste Hauler’s Discharge Permit from PUB are required to submit a copy of their valid General Permit for Disposal at Publicly Owned Treatment Works, issued by the WV Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP) and a copy of their valid Septic Tank Cleaner Permit, issued by the WV Department of Health and Human Resources (WV DHHR) Local Health Department, with their application which are held on file.
The FOG Source Control Program ensures that FSEs are in compliance with the requirements of the City of Parkersburg’s FOG Ordinance (June 2011). The first step in implementing the FOG control program was assembling an "Inventory" of the FSEs in its service area and educating the FSEs on their FOG responsibilities. The ordinance requires all FSE’s discharging wastewater containing FOG to the WWTP to obtain a FOG Wastewater Discharge Permit by going through an application process. Utilizing the information gathered on the application the FSE, with PUB’s guidance and approval, submits a FOG control plan which includes the size and capacity of interceptors and the schedule for interceptor cleaning. Maintenance of the interceptor shall include the removal of all contents, including floating material, wastewater, and sludge/solids and interceptors are inspected frequently by PUB staff. All waste removed from the interceptor must be disposed of at a facility approved to accept such material in accordance with state and federal regulations. Parkersburg’s WWTP utilizes anaerobic digesters for co-digestion of FOG with municipal biosolids. In addition to designating a FOG discharge point at the WWTP, PUB has implemented other controls on the discharge of FOG waste. These controls include utilizing compliance tracking software to efficiently manage FOG and septage hauled waste providing a comprehensive Cradle-to-Grave tracking system, tracking over 2,000 facilities with 350 of them being FOG related and over 150 of them are in the Parkersburg/Vienna service area. This means FOG disposals are instantly traced back to the originating FSE for closed loop monitoring.
The City of Fairmont
DEP Sponsor: Connie Anderson
In 2005 the City of Fairmont chose to implement its stormwater management program with the versatility of a utility under the direction of the Sewer Board. Thanks to the West Virginia Legislature enacting a statute that gave cities' the option for utilities, Fairmont has diligently and rapidly progressed to its present day status of area leader in pollution prevention. As stated by Utility Director David Sago, his team is "passionate about protecting public health and the environment" and he has the facts to prove it.
A very successful Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) program has removed raw sewage from the receiving stream. In 2015 alone, 20 illicit discharges were found and eliminated. Solids, fecal coliform (bacteria), FOG (Fats, Oils, & Grease), detergents, were detected and were eliminated. Many of the illicit discharges originated from private residences and Sago's team turned the discovery of these pollutants into success stories by educating the responsible parties and training of the staff.
Fairmont Utilities is responsible for stormwater management, sanitary sewer collection, and the wastewater treatment plant. Fairmont's preference for utilities allows its employees to work together to solve problems that might otherwise prove overwhelming. Fifteen Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) have been permanently eliminated, waterways are healing, and chances for the public to be adversely affected are on the decline.
Fairmont promotes Green Infrastructure to cut down on stormwater runoff that can carry pollution to streams, rivers, and lakes. Fairmont built raingardens, attractive yet hard-working structures that capture and treat stormwater, and the team works with private developers to identify infrastructure that can help reduce flooding and recharge groundwater. Rain barrels, inlet stenciling and clean stream initiatives are very active Public Education and Outreach Programs within the Utility.
2015 was a good year for Fairmont and nearby municipalities. That's because Fairmont offered its assistance to smaller towns struggling with the concept of developing Stormwater Management Programs. Sago and company shared copies of Fairmont's ordinances, Source Water Assessment Program (SWAP) outlines, and made themselves available to explain the ins and outs of implementing a utility and offered tips to save the small towns’ time, effort, and expenses that could otherwise derail a good faith effort to build a program.
Thanks to its Utility, the outlook for Fairmont’s 2016 stormwater management program is crystal clear!
The City of Charleston
DEP Sponsor: Connie Anderson
"River Proud" is the brainchild of the new stormwater management team for the City of Charleston. Under the leadership of Steve Birurakis, the dynamic team of three quickly attracted the interest of other city employees eager to lend a hand and make the pollution reduction initiative a success. City lawyers, street sweepers, City Council, administration staff, city engineers, and members of the Planning Department heard about the enthusiasm and intensity of the River Proud team and joined up to help Birurakis, LeeAnn Grogg, and Greg Robinson pull off the most successful endeavor of a single year in the history of West Virginia's Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Program.
Birurakis barely had time to settle in to his new job as Stormwater Manager before the initiative took off and from the day he put his team together, he hasn’t slowed down.
Over 30,000 people heard about pollution prevention techniques from Grogg (MS4 Coordinator) in venues as diverse as Festivall, poetry readings, rainbarrel workshops, and, during a fun day of picking up cigarette butts: “No Butts About It!”
Robinson reached a much sought after personal goal when he passed the certification test offered by Stormcon in Austin, Texas. He is now one of few West Virginians to hold the title of Certified MS4 Specialist. He put the training to good use. The Planning Department and building inspectors now serve on the front lines promoting stormwater best management practices, thanks to Robinson's tutelage.
The Public Works supervisor constructed a gravel-lined drainage ditch and stormwater sampling location, spiffed up the salt truck yard, and paved the Public Works lot to eliminate rills and unsightly gullies. He did all this so the city could serve as an example to others.
One of the difficult efforts taken on by the city was that of planning, developing, and enacting Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination and Sediment and Erosion Control Ordinances. Engineering, Planning, Legal, and Stormwater teams put in long hours, worked out solutions, explained the requirements to city leaders, and were rewarded with passage of the ordinances.
Thanks to the hard work of city employees across all departments, River Proud - an idea dreamed up by new employees - became the catalyst for teamwork that should make all West Virginians proud.
Mary Ellen and Patrick Cassidy
West Virginia's First State Capitol Building
DEP Sponsor: Gene Coccari
The first state capitol in Wheeling is now a model of energy efficiency. Standing in downtown Wheeling at 1413 Eoff Street, the first state capitol building was constructed in 1858 in a city with a 19th century frontier feel. In a juxtaposition of West Virginia’s history and its future, the first state capitol restoration and energy efficiency project exhibits that same Mountaineer Spirit with a 21st Century edge.
The building's exterior and interior reflect the historic character of the first state capitol, and has been lovingly restored by its owners, Patrick and Mary Ellen Cassidy, to serve as a model of energy efficiency. The building presently serves as the home of long-time Wheeling law firm Cassidy, Cogan, Shapell & Voegelin, L.C.; West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s northern news bureau; and the Wheeling Academy of Law and Science, or the WALS Foundation, as well as other related businesses.
Built in 1858 as the second home of the Linsly Institute and modified to its present neo-classical look by Bertschy's Funeral Home in the mid 1920's, this building served as the first state capitol of West Virginia from the inception of the state on June 20, 1863 to April 1, 1870, and from May 23, 1875 to December 4, 1876. Arthur I. Boreman, the first governor of the new state, gave his inaugural address in front of the building on the birthday of West Virginia, June 20, 1863.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, enacted in 1865 (abolishing slavery); the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, enacted in 1868 (prohibiting States from depriving any person of life, liberty or property without "due process" of law); and, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, enacted in 1870 (prohibiting the abridgment of the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or previous condition of servitude) were all ratified by the State of West Virginia in this building.
In early 2016, the Cassidys completed a three year project to make the first state capitol a “model of energy efficiency,” culminating more than 20 years of restoration on the building. The elements of the project were recommended by a certified energy audit, and resulted in the following improvements to the historic building:
1) Completed replacement of all windows with historically accurate, yet highly energy efficient windows.
2) Complete repair and historically accurate re-stucco of the exterior skin of building, to not only "interpret" the building circa 1920's, but to seal all holes in skin and make exterior of building energy tight.
3) Installed energy efficient new "Cool Roof” to deflect sunlight on main building roof; and, the first installation of solar panels on a downtown Wheeling structure (on the attached garage of the first state capitol so as not to interfere with "historic" amenities of the building), designed to otherwise reduce electrical grid usage of the building by approximately 20 percent.
4) Permafrost was added to all HVAC Units.
5) All building lighting was replaced to high energy efficiency lighting (Replaced T12 lighting with T8 lighting).
6) Rebalanced/recommissioned HVAC load to allow for steady, efficient thermostat settings.
7) Replaced thermostats with programmable units with an override function.
8) Replaced energy inefficient metal door on third floor, and added window seal treatment.
DEP Sponsor: Brian Carr
Highland Hospital installed a recycled water laundry facility in 2012 when it opened its new building in Kanawha City. That water facility was used not only by Highland but also by thousands of West Virginians during the Freedom Industries chemical spill in 2014. The chemical spill contaminated the source of drinking water for more than 300,000 people, and meant people could not use the water from their taps for anything – even doing laundry.
During the “Do Not Use” advisory issued by West Virginia American Water, Highland Hospital did about five tons of laundry from other medical facilities such as Charleston Area Medical Center, Boone Memorial Hospital, and area nursing homes.
The West Virginia Division of Highways provided a tanker of water, which was pumped through the facility's ductwork and into the laundry room using long hoses.
Highland uses only about 25 percent of its water for laundry from West Virginia American Water. The rest is funneled from three 100-pound washing machines into a tank and distributed to carbon and sand filters. That water is then processed through an ozone filter and sanitized using a UV light.
While the laundry facility was certainly busy during the first week of the water ban, treatment for patients went uninterrupted. Both the hospital and the Highland Center were at capacity.
Highland continues to utilize the water recycling units and are recycling more than 700,000 gallons of water per year.
IMPROVEMENT TO AIR QUALITY
Rocket Center, WV
DEP Sponsor: Brian Tephabock
The Rocket Center facility is located in Mineral County, WV and is a Title V air emissions source. Principal operations include fabrication of rocket motor and warhead cases, production of propellants and explosives, preparation and loading of cases, and fabrication of various composite material aircraft components. Historically, steam for the processes at the facility was provided by multiple antiquated boilers, some of which were manufactured over 45 years ago.
New Federal Regulations required Orbital ATK’s Allegany Ballistics Laboratory (ABL) to aggressively consider its options to maintain required facility steam production while meeting new regulatory air standards for compliance. One engineering and feasibility study option was to retro-fit the existing boilers with emission control systems, but they would only be able to obtain minimum required emission reductions.
Those inefficient boilers were already costly to maintain and operate for steam production. The second option was to do a boiler system replacement. It was concluded that although space for housing add-on controls was very limited, the existing boiler equipment could perhaps be retro-fitted with emissions controls with major renovations and/or reconstruction to the boilers themselves.
Still yet, the benefits of emission reductions would be minimal at best and the boiler efficiencies would continue to decline. ABL committed to a $14 million investment project involving replacing the less efficient and outdated boiler systems with state-of-the-art models, with full operation of the new system having occurred on January 30, 2016.
ABL’s commitment was driven by the potential for operating cost reductions combined with significant emission reductions lasting a much longer sustained period. Air emissions from the new boiler system will be reduced by at least 60 percent from those resulting from the old system. Emission reduction benefits will be enjoyed by the company, the State of West Virginia and its citizens, as well as the Class I Wilderness Areas of Dolly Sods, Otter Creek, and Shenandoah National Park.
Guyandotte River Trail
Oak Hill, WV
DEP Sponsor: Tomi Bergstrom
The Guyandotte River spans five counties in southern West Virginia. Getting five counties together to form a water trail seemed like an unsurmountable task, so the National Coal Heritage Program applied for a VISTA to spearhead the effort.
Once Kody Crawford started working with the Guyandotte River Trail in May of 2015 partners began clicking into place, applications were accepted, and grants were written.
Kody has been instrumental in facilitating meetings for representatives from each county to make the Guyandotte River into a water trail by forming the Guyandotte Water Trail Alliance.
Kody has applied for a FLEX-E-Grant to create a logo, a Recreational Trails Program grant for access sites within Mingo and Lincoln County, and created a new draft application to include Wyoming County within the water trail designation. Kody is working closely with the WV Land Trust to complete the Access Management Plan, to identify 30 access sites along the Guyandotte River for paddler use.
A transplant from Arizona, Kody states, “There are some great individuals helping with the development of the Guyandotte Water Trail and it has been inspiring to see and be a part of the positive change in the region. With this opportunity I have grown more attached to the Guyandotte River Watershed and I will do whatever it takes to preserve the natural beauty of the river.”
Representatives from all five counties and DEP are very thankful for Kody’s efforts!
DEP Sponsor: Matthew Collier
Located in Huntington, West Virginia, Marshall University is home to a community of individuals who are dedicated to environmental stewardship. This drive for maintaining a healthy environment has led to the implementation of various types of public education outreach opportunities and green infrastructure experiments to reduce the impact of stormwater in the Ohio River.
Travis Bailey, Marshall’s Environmental Specialist and Sustainability Officer, has led the way. Green infrastructure can be a cost-effective and resilient approach to managing stormwater impacts by reducing the amount accumulated and treating it at its source while delivering environmental, social, and economic benefits. Thus far, these initiatives have inspired stormwater curriculum and special topic lectures in classrooms which demonstrate the impact of this growing issue. The focus is to inform students, staff, and faculty about the fate of stormwater and how their individual actions can affect stormwater.
Marshall University has been experimenting with technologies to evaluate their effectiveness. The results of the research has been incorporated on campus and in public presentations to show the pros and cons of the technologies and installation difficulties. Some of the technologies displayed on campus include grass cells, permeable pavers, retention facilities, rain gardens, grass swales, and green roofs that can be applied to problem areas within the community.
The City of Kingwood
DEP Sponsor: Erin Brittain
The City of Kingwood has a robust recycling program. When the program was initiated, operations were constricted to the City Sanitary Sewer bed area. Program participation quickly increased, and operations outgrew the existing space. City leaders recognized a local abandoned warehouse to purchase as a dedicated recycling program building.
The Penmarva building, which previously housed a grocery wholesale company, was dilapidated and had been neglected since 2007. But the size and location made it ideal for recycling operations.
City leaders pursued purchase of the brownfield and asked the Northern WV Brownfields Assistance Center (NBAC) for guidance in 2014. In March 2015, the city accepted a $2,000 brownfields assistance mini-grant from NBAC, held a visioning event for community stakeholders to collaboratively develop a conceptual site design, and agreed to move forward with the purchase of the building for its recycling program.
After environmental assessment, the site was purchased in June 2015, and the city applied for—and received—a $75,000 REAP Recycling Assistant Program Grant to purchase equipment for the new facility.
The new Kingwood Recycling Center, which is more accessible and customer friendly, opened for business in February 2016, and the community response has been extraordinary. Drop-off customers no longer need to visit the Sanitary Sewer bed area to drop of their recyclables; instead, 24-hour recycling bins are available outside the new building. Residents are filling the bins faster than they can be emptied, and demand has already prompted the city to hire two new full-time employees.
The City of Kingwood demonstrated an excellent use of land revitalization in West Virginia while increasing capacity of its own recycling program.
Jefferson County Commission
Charles Town, WV
DEP Sponsor: Alana Hartman
As West Virginia began the effort to develop and implement the Chesapeake Bay total maximum daily load (TMDL) and watershed implementation plans, the Jefferson County Commission and the staff of the Engineering Department and Planning and Zoning Department have actively participated in that process.
County staff were active in a workgroup that developed a model stormwater ordinance, and their staff still participates in West Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay Tributary Team and an ongoing Developed Lands Workgroup. Jefferson County contributed to West Virginia’s required Chesapeake Bay pollutant load reductions by voluntarily modifying its stormwater ordinance in 2014 to incorporate water quality treatment and a 1-inch capture requirement.
Thus, any new development in Jefferson County will address both water quantity and water quality issues. The county also led the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia in adopting a goal to increase tree canopy. These actions will be of benefit to the local economy and help maintain the existing quality of life in Jefferson County.
OUTSTANDING LITTER CONTROL
Lt. Ron Gardner
Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department
DEP Sponsor: Harmony Dressler
Lt. Ronald Gardner is a 30-plus year veteran of the Berkeley County Sherriff’s Department. He was assigned to the Berkeley County Litter Control Program in April 2014.
Since that time, the Berkeley County Litter Control Program has processed more than 645 formal litter control complaints. The vast majority of these complaints were directly handled by Lt. Gardner. These complaints have led to the estimated cleanup of more than 380,000 pounds of solid waste or the equivalent of more than 19 trash trucks.
To accomplish these activities, Lt. Gardner has actively engaged the resources of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department, Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority, WV-DHHR Community Service Program, WV-DNR Conservation Officers, and WV-DEP Enforcement Officers. For his efforts, Berkeley County was named the first and second place winners in the 2015 and 2014 West Virginia Make It Shine Clean County Contest.
In addition, Lt. Gardner is currently taking the lead in an effort to establish an educational program in Berkeley County Schools utilizing the “McGruff the Crime Dog Program” to promote litter reduction and open dumping prevention.
EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
Friends of Hughes River
DEP Sponsor: Tomi Bergstrom
In support of their mission to protect and enhance the Hughes River Watershed, the Friends of Hughes River partner with North Bend State Park for lake clean ups and hosts their own Adopt-A-Highway cleanups twice a year. They work closely with Wheeling Jesuit, Trout Unlimited, and the Ritchie County Commission to take monthly grab samples above their public water intake on the North Fork of the Hughes River and monitoring results are shared on the website for the public to review. FOH also keeps their community up to date on important public comment periods for DEP Oil and Gas, Water, and Air permits.
For three years, FOH has worked diligently to educate themselves, their community, and especially the youth. FOH hosted two water festivals last year and are planning three for the 2016, reaching well over 700 children. Other trainings and workshops include Project WET (Water Education for Teachers), WV Save our Streams, WVDEP Watershed Assessment Branch, and Trout Unlimited water monitoring protocols, and Mussels of the Little Kanawha identification. The Friends of Hughes River efforts pay off as they grow in number and support. They are an example of what a group of volunteers can do.
As Wendy Radcliff of the WVDEP Environmental Advocate Office puts it, “Friends of the Hughes River has spent hundreds of hours training themselves and others to provide reliable water quality data to the DEP and local water users. Their efforts are tireless and often without recognition. Through their hard work and tenacious spirit, they have become a model of excellence in watershed advocacy.”
EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
Glenville State College
DEP Sponsor: Kim Maxwell
Dr. Joe Evans has spent his entire professional life making the world a better place. He is an amazing and inspiring professor and his impact is magnified exponentially. He has consistently worked to strengthen education standards in West Virginia and sets the bar high for his preservice teachers in science and environmental education.
Dr. Evans goes well beyond teaching what is simply required; he teaches what is necessary for the future of our children and the future of our planet. He incorporates environmental education into his curriculum at every opportunity and he works to educate, empower, and inspire positive action in his students and in all of the children that those students will ultimately reach as teachers. The effect of Dr. Evans’ work ripples far and wide throughout our state and beyond.
EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
Boy Scout Troop 99
DEP Sponsor: Tom Aluise
Boy Scout Troop 99 of Marmet, in Kanawha County, takes the ideas of community service and environmental education seriously. Whether it’s planting trees to benefit its hometown, or visiting an industry to learn how its practices affect the environment, Troop 99 stays busy on the path toward environmental stewardship.
The Scouts are willing to go outside the box as well in promoting a healthy environment. Taking a cue from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s annual Christmas Tree Recycling Drive, Troop 99 decided to encourage the residents of Marmet to recycle their live trees. The troop promoted the event effectively, then collected residents’ trees at a drop-off site in Marmet. Later, the troop delivered the trees to the DEP’s recycling event at Charleston’s Capitol Market.
Although it’s relatively new to the state’s Adopt-A-Highway program, Troop 99 has already conducted four cleanups on a stretch of road between Marmet and Kanawha City. It has cleaned and planted both pine and dogwood trees in two local parks and participates in the DEP’s Make It Shine efforts.
In the education department, in 2015 Troop 99 visited West Virginia American Water’s treatment plant, toured a surface coal mine in southern West Virginia, and got an up-close look at the Marmet Wastewater Treatment Plant. The troop also attended the Buckskin Council Camporee at the West Virginia State Fair and was involved in several agriculture projects. It even witnessed a calf being born.
Troop 99 has been recognized by the state Youth Environmental Program for its outstanding service. Although it’s a small troop with just six boys and four adults, Troop 99 never fails in producing big results.
EDUCATION AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
Mercer County Solid Waste Authority
DEP Sponsor: Sara Prior
The Mercer County Solid Waste Authority (MCSWA) partnered with the Mercer County Commission in 2015 for a Spring and Fall “Keep Mercer Clean…Love Where Your Live” litter sweep campaign.
During this campaign the MCSWA offered Free Disposal Day on all five Wednesdays in April 2015. 1,240 Free Day customers were served during these five free days and over 178 tons of garbage was properly disposed of. Nearly 28 additional tons of garbage was collected from local drop-off box locations and delivered to the landfill at no charge during this campaign.
Lusk Disposal and the Mercer County Commission partnered in the drop-off box project. The fall campaign was held one Saturday in October and allowed individuals to deliver waste to drop-off boxes placed around the county. There was no charge for disposal during this Saturday and the MCSWA absorbed the cost of landfill disposal of this waste.
Additionally, during 2015 the MCSWA worked with the Mercer County Litter Control Officer in cleaning up Mercer County by reporting litter or open dump complaints to the litter control officer. The MCSWA assisted in cleaning some of these dump areas and hauling the waste to the landfill. In addition to these highlights from 2015, the MCSWA provides recycling services to the Mercer County area and collects recyclables from schools as well as other locations.
The City of St. Albans
DEP Sponsor: David Parsons
The city of St. Albans exemplifies progressive leadership and a novel approach in preventing stormwater pollution. Instead of washing vehicles on city streets, residential driveways, or parking lots of businesses, the city has created a charity car wash station to serve as a model for communities throughout West Virginia and the United States. Washwater, detergents, oil and greases, or other chemicals from cleaning flow into permeable pavers, filtering through rock and layers of subbases rather than discharging to stormwater or surface waters. Any overflow from the carwash area is channeled into adjacent rain gardens and vegetative areas to be absorbed there.
Norman Clerc, the St. Albans Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Administrator, proposed the idea to city leaders in 2015 and the idea was quickly approved and pavers were installed in the fall of 2015. With the return of warm weather, the car wash is ready for business and available free of charge to charitable groups for reservation. This “green” alternative serves the dual purpose of improving water quality by reducing pollution while providing a venue for raising money for a worthwhile cause.
West Virginia Division of Highways
DEP Sponsor: Patty Perrine
Among his many other duties, Sajid Barlas is the statewide Environmental Remediation Coordinator for Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) cleanup and underground storage tank (UST) removal projects at West Virginia Department of Transportation, Division of Highways.
WVDEP Office of Environmental Remediation project managers enjoy working with Sajid and have confidence that he will bring a quick, correct, and complete remediation to the projects that he manages. He ensures that tank removal activities go smoothly by proper advanced preparation, such as conducting soil borings before tank closures in order to prepare for proper handling and disposal of contaminated soils. He is quick to reply to requests from the DEP’s Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) project managers. He goes above and beyond what project managers require in order to ensure that all environmental and human health concerns are properly addressed at his sites.
Sajid has been successful in reducing the cleanup backlog of DOH sites from a high of 41 percent in the 1990s, to 21 percent in the 2000’s, to a present-day 14 percent. He has also brought the average years to cleanup for a closed WVDOH leak site from 9.8 years in the 1980s to the present-day 0.62.
Sajid is highly respected by the OER field staff due to his honesty and integrity, along with his exceptional quality of work.
Mercer County Commission
DEP Sponsor: Sara Prior
County Commissioner Greg Puckett is a staunch advocate for keeping Mercer County clean. Since his induction into politics, he and Commissioners Mike Vinciguerra and Gene Buckner have worked collectively to create a county wide vision of litter free roadways, sparkling streams, and community based partnerships to solve an ongoing environmental problem: trash.
In March 2015, Commissioner Puckett reached out to local media partners, municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, schools, prevention partners, officers, and others to create a movement of change. Combined with a strong social media presence and volunteer base, the #keepmercerclean campaign was born.
Over 3,000 commercials aired during the initial 40 day cleanup (March 20-April 30, 2015), and over 200 tons of trash were collected in mobile disposal units and community free days. Approximately 23,000 tires were collected in cooperation with the local health department and communities were inspired to clean ditches and personal property.
Following the initial campaign, ordinances were strengthened and in 2016 a new dilapidated building ordinance will continually change the local environmental landscape.
Even in his personal time, Commissioner Puckett regularly partners with local groups to clean miles of roadways, and believes in the motto: “Community Service is a privilege, not a punishment.”
CABINET SECRETARY AWARD
Buffalo Creek Watershed Improvement Association
DEP Sponsor: Ed Hamrick
Formed in 2006, the goals of the Buffalo Creek Watershed Improvement Association (BCWIA) were to preserve and protect the watershed, improve water quality, and provide multiple recreational opportunities for residents and visitors increasing tourism and boosting the local economy.
The group focused its initial efforts on stream cleanup, water quality improvement through limestone sands treatment, and education initiatives in the local community like the “Trout in the Classroom Project.” While these endeavors were successful, to fully realize their vision, access to the resource was provided by acquiring 22 miles of the old Buffalo Creek and Gauley railroad for a trail.
After years of negotiating, the Buffalo Creek Recreational Trail became a reality on April 27, 2015, when the Elk River Railroad leased its 60-foot track right-of-way to the trail’s developers. With the support of numerous public and private partnerships, the group has moved quickly to develop the trail.
Volunteer crews have worked diligently to clear brush from over 12 miles of right-of-way and their efforts will be greatly assisted by the recent donation of a rail truck. With donated labor and materials, four of the six trestle bridges on the trail have been decked, opening them to foot and bicycle traffic. Informational signage providing directions and highlighting historically significant locations along the trail are now in place.
Working with the WVDNR, the group successfully lobbied for four miles of Buffalo Creek to be added to the state’s trout stocking list. To enhance the fishery, the WVDEP has committed $150,000 for stream restoration and habitat improvement in the watershed and granted funds to begin surfacing the trail with gravel. To accommodate trail users, campgrounds have been opened along the trail at Swandale and Dundon.
The BCWIA has demonstrated that a small, unselfish group of dedicated volunteers working in partnership with others can restore and develop an important natural resource bringing pride, hope, and value to a distressed local community.