State and federal officials will kick off the operation of the Abram Creek Watershed treatment project during a 1 p.m. ceremony on Aug. 3 at the Little Creek doser site near Mount Storm in Grant County.
The project will improve water quality on more than six miles of tributary streams and on more than 18 miles of the Abram Creek mainstem that flow through Grant and Mineral counties. Acid mine drainage from pre-law mining activities has impaired the streams.
“This is an extremely important project that required a great deal of cooperation and effort between state and federal agencies, as well as private entities,” Gov. Joe Manchin said. “The benefits of the project are far-reaching both environmentally and economically. Restoring our impaired streams is a top priority because of the value it has for the citizens of this state and the tourists who will visit.”
The $850,000 project is being funded primarily through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s Abandoned Mine Lands program. DEP Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman praised the cooperative efforts of everyone involved, including the Mid-Atlantic Highlands Action Program, which coordinated the initiative.
“This project will positively impact local, state and regional communities and provide long-term ecological, economic and recreational benefits,” Huffman said. “Ultimately, our goal is to address the pre-law mine sites that are contributing the acid mine drainage to this watershed.”
Benefits of improved water quality in Abram Creek include the emergence of a diverse trout fishery and expansion of native brook trout in the headwaters. Economic benefits of the watershed restoration are estimated at $600,000 annually from trout fishing alone.
“This is a great day for the aquatic resources in this part of the state and for anglers as well,” said Frank Jezioro, director of the Division of Natural Resources. “We will monitor the water quality of Abram Creek through the fall and winter. If the pH remains at a suitable and stable level, then we will plan a February 2011 trout stocking, and if successful, Abram Creek will become part of the DNR’s spring stocking schedule as a monthly stocked water.”
To improve water quality in the Abram Creek Watershed, three treatment sites will release alkaline material into the water to neutralize the acid. The alkaline material is introduced through the use of structures called dosers. The stream may be discolored for a short distance near the doser sites.
Three additional treatment sites in the watershed are also part of the restoration plan. Treatment at those sites involves periodically dumping acid-neutralizing limestone sand directly into the stream.
Because Abram Creek has been identified as the most significant West Virginia contributor of acid water to the North Branch of the Potomac, and thus to the Chesapeake Bay, the state of Maryland has joined forces in the project and will operate and maintain the three dosers. Another partner in the project, Fairfax Materials Inc., will provide and transport materials for one year to the three additional treatment sites.
The Aug. 3 ceremony at the Little Creek doser location comes on the same day the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 was signed into law 33 years ago by President Jimmy Carter. The law regulates the environmental effects of current and past coal mining in the U.S.