In The News
Loonies Behind UMRA
The West Virginia and Pennsylvania
forks of Dunkard Creek merge in Shamrock, Pennsylvania, to form
Dunkard Creek, which meanders nearly 38 miles along the southwest
border of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of West
Virginia, before its confluence with the Monongahela River just
downstream of Point Marion, PA.
Because the valley has had a long history
of coal mining and oil and
gas production, water quality is an issue, particularly with regards to
dissolved solids. The West Virginia Department of
Environmental Protection has prepared a draft plan for a TMDL
(Total Maximum Daily Load) approach to control. You can view or
download a 3.2 Meg .PDF file of that report. The
Pennsylvania Department of
Environmental Protection plan for a TMDL
(Total Maximum Daily Load) approach for AMD affected reaches was
US-EPA approved in 2007. You can view or
download a 877K .PDF file of that report.
Dunkard Creek Fish Kill
Added Since 2 December 2009
WV-DEP Modifies CONSOL Discharge Permit
On 23 April 2010 the West
Department of Environmental Protection issued a revised
order to Consolidation Coal Company (Consol) which permits
continued discharges into Dunkard Creek.
In the permit the DEP notes:
You can click
here for a 891 K .PDF copy of the actual order.
- On April 15, 2010 Consol submitted draft engineering
details and proposed compliance schedule for wastewater treatment at
Blacksville No. 2 and Loveridge mines. The chosen treatment method
utilizes reverse osmosis and evaporation/crystallization.
- Consol has implemented and continues to monitor for certain
parameters at designated outlets. Parameters include chlorides, TDS,
total selenium, BOD, ammonia nitrogen and specific conductance.
- Consol has constructed and implemented real time,
continuous in-stream monitoring stations on Dunkard Creek upstream of
Blacksville No. 2 outlet 003 and downstream of Blacksville No. 2 outlet
005 ... Specific conductance and chloride are monitored at these sites,
as well as temperature at the downstream point. This data has been
submitted to WVDEP.
- To date, Consol has not reported any exceedences of
in-stream interim limits for chloride and specific conductance.
- Consol has implemented weekly monitoring for golden algae
(prymnesium parvum) at sixteen (16) locations within Dunkard Creek and
submitted the results to WVDEP.
WV-DEP Authorizes CONSOL to Resume Discharges in January
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UMRA's Correspondence with Senator Robert Byrd
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The 12th Water Quality Forum
The 12th Water Quality Forum (a public
meeting) was held at the Mt.
Morris (PA) Gospel Tabernacle Church on 3 December 2009 at 4:00pm. The
meeting was sponsored by the Greene County Conservation District and
the Upper Mon River Association.
The following PowerPoint presentations from the meeting are available.
Drilling, by Bryan Swistock Water Resources
Extension Specialist, Penn State University. (1.4 Meg .PDF
Management, by Charles W. Abdalla,
Professor of Agricultural & Environmental Economics, Penn State
University & Cooperative Extension. (2.1 Meg .PDF file)
Assessment, by Frank Jernejcic and David Wellman,
Fisheries Biologists, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources,
Wildlife Resources Section. (2.2 Meg .PDF file)
Concerns, by Patrick Campbell, WVDEP-DWWM (1.5 Meg .PDF
Monongahela River Water Quality Project - Project WRI 119, by Paul
Ziemkiewicz, PhD, Director, West Virginia Water Research Institute (1.3
Meg .PDF file)
chart, by Rose Reilly, U.S. Army Corps of
Engineer (18 K .PDF file)
Waters, by Patrick Campbell, WVDEP-DWWM
(2.4 Meg .PDF file)
Additional information on the meeting is available on the Greene County
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Approval Letter and
Decision Rationale for Total Maximum Daily Loads for Selected Streams
in the Dunkard Creek Watershed of West Virginia (106K .PDF file)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region III, 30 September
This document is an approval of the West
Virginia Department of
Environmental Protection (WVDEP) report Total Maximum Daily Loads
for Selected Streams in the Dunkard Creek Watershed, West Virginia.
It notes that "On September 9. 2009. prior to
submission of the final TMDLs. EPA personnel investigated reports of a
fish kill in Dunkard Creek. EPA personnel are continuing to work with
representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. the WVDEP. the
West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. the Pennsylvania Fishing
and Boating Commission. and other appropriate agencies to investigate
and respond to this fish kill. The investigation is not complete. EPA
anticipates that information developed as a result of the investigation
may necessitate development of new TMDLs and/or other actions. such as
enforcement. EPA intends to coordinate closely with WVDEP to evaluate
new information generated by the investigation into this fish kill and
to devise an appropriate and timely response."
WV DEP has established a web page of Dunkard Creek Information at:
Joint Legislative Oversight Commission
on State Water Resources - 15 October 2009
The West Virginia Joint Legislative
Oversight Commission on State Water Resources met on Thursday, October
15 to examine the 30-mile fish kill in Dunkard Creek. The meeting took
place at the State Capitol, and was open to the public.
Presentations were made by Scott
Mandirola, WV-DEP, Frank Jernejcic,
WV-DNR. and Duane Nichols, UMRA. Click
MRRR&CC Mon River Water Quality
Forum - 9 October, 2009
The 9 October 2009 meeting of the Mon
River Water Quality Forum focused on the Dunkard Creek fish kill.
We offer .PDF versions of the following PowerPoint presentations which
Dunkard Creek Fish
Kill Assessment - September 2009
Frank Jernejcic and David Wellman, Fisheries Biologists, West Virginia
Division of Natural Resources - Wildlife Resources Section
Dunkard Creek Aquatic
Life Kills - September, 2009
Patrick Campbell, West Virginia DEP-DWWM (Division of Water and Waste
River Water Quality Project - Project WRI 119 - July to September 09
Paul Ziemkiewicz, Water Research Institute - West
Slides presented by Rose Reilly, Biologist, Water Management, US Army
Corps of Engineers, Pittsburgh District
The UMRA sponsored Monongahela River
(MRR&CC) promotes the conservation of the Monongahela River and
provides counsel to the public and the business community in their
pursuits for both economic development and recreational activities that
utilize the Monongahela River. The MRR&CC meets
regularly on the second Friday of each
month. Typically from 9:30-9:55AM we discuss regular
At 10AM, we continue with our Mon River Water Quality Forum.
If you have item for the agenda, please contact Don
Strimbeck, 304-599-7585, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A fish kill on
Dunkard Creek was first
reported on 1 September 2009, and apparently continues through this
date. It is reported that 161 aquatic species have died along Dunkard
Creek. Species included large game fish and mussels which will, at
best, take several decades to reestablish. The
fish started turning belly up on 1 September and by 4 September dead
fish were lining the deep pool below the Lower Brave
Dam near the Greene County, PA town of Brave and/or the Monongalia
County, WV community of Pentress.
There has been
extensive press coverage of the problem, and many of the stories can
be accessed on our In The News page.
Photos of the
disaster can be found on the Dunkard Died web page, http://dunkarddied.shutterfly.com/
A copy of a memo from the EPA office in Wheeling to
participants in the investigation has circulated on the web. This
covers the period up through 14 September 2009
Much of the search for direct
blame has focused on CONSOL Energy's
Blacksville mines and a CNX (CONSOL Energy) Gas injection well. The
focus should not be limited to Consol. A brine discharge was
observed some years ago which was connected with Peabody's Federal
mine, well upstream of Blacksville No. 2. The cumulative salt
pollution should be viewed from a watershed perspective. These
are big mines and each may have more than one point of discharge.
A Golden Alga Bloom?
On 25 September 2009 a WV-DEP press
release said "The West Virginia
Department of Environmental Protection now believes a
golden algae bloom is linked to a large fish kill on Dunkard Creek, in
northern West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania. DEP staff members
investigating the incident narrowed down the causes of the fish kill
after consulting with algae experts from West Virginia University,
North Carolina and Texas.
The algae found in Dunkard Creek has been
Prymnesium parvum, commonly called golden algae, which occurs
worldwide, but primarily in coastal waters that have higher salt or
mineral content. The algae produces toxins that can affect
gill-breathing organisms and the most visible result of a fish kill
caused by golden alga is dead and dying fish and mussels of all species
We have not seen the data on
which the WV-DEP announcements are based,
but we understand that the presence of the alga has been identified by
at least two independent laboratories. Texas
Parks and Wildlife operates the most comprehensive website devoted to Golden Algae. According
alga may be present in waters
supporting large fish populations. As we understand it, although the
Dunkard Creek waters were more saline than desirable, they had nearly
neutral pH levels and were warm. These do not accord with the most
dangerous conditions identified in the Texas information.
For a more detailed discussion of the algae question see the Algae page.
Documents Related to CONSOL Water Processing
from Blacksville Mines
CONSOL Energy, which includes
both coal mining and
natural gas operations, is the largest single operator in the Dunkard
We have also obtained .PDF files
of a number of documents related to
water treatment plans which may be accessed on our CONSOL page.
Maps of Upper Dunkard Creek
We have a collection of maps of Upper Dunkard Creek on the Maps page.