DEP continues work to improve water quality on Little Coal River


Work has begun on another major restoration project on the Little Coal River. The river continues to benefit from the strong commitment of state agencies, environmental groups, businesses and concerned citizens to improve its water quality, fish habitat and recreational opportunities.
The latest restoration effort, sponsored by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, will enhance water quality on a 15-mile stretch of the river from Danville downstream to McCorkle. Work recently began on a section of the river at Julian in Boone County.

The entire project involves placing 198 restoration structures (boulders and logs) in the river to increase its flow velocity. Rapidly moving water better carries sediment through the river, flushes out sand and silt from the bottom and improves habitat for fish and insects. The project also will help reduce stream bank erosion on the Little Coal. The placement of the restoration structures allows fish passage at all flows and will not hinder current recreational boating opportunities.

R.E.I. Consulting designed the work and Stantec Inc. is engineering the $3 million project, which is targeted for completion in December 2014. Partial funding was provided by American Electric Power, whose utility subsidiary, Appalachian Power, serves a portion of West Virginia. AEP’s $1.45 million contribution was provided through a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act. DEP Stream Restoration Fund money is covering the remainder of the project’s costs.

Efforts to improve water quality on the Little Coal have been ongoing for close to 30 years. The state Division of Highways first began placing restoration structures in the river during construction of Corridor G. Since then, state agencies and others have continued the work to reduce sediment in the river, a problem brought on by pre-law mining, timbering and road construction. The latest project is being supported by the West Virginia Conservation Agency.

Local schools have joined the effort, as well. Madison Middle School science students in Boone County wrote about how they hoped to assist agencies in the Little Coal restoration and entered those plans in a national science contest, “Solve for Tomorrow,” sponsored by Samsung.

Madison Middle is now among 15 finalists nationwide to win up to $110,000 in technology and software for the school. A Samsung judging panel will select four grand prize winners. A fifth winner -- called the Community Choice winner -- will be selected based on on-line voting by the public. To vote for Madison Middle School and to view a video about their efforts, click here


Tom Aluise