Low Rainfall Complicates Managing Salts in Mon This Year

The State Journal
16 July 2012

By Pam Kasey

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on Saturday that drought-reduced Dunkard Creek, at the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border, is being affected by high levels of salty discharges (Dunkard Creek pollution affects Mon River quality). Dunkard empties into the Monongahela River. High levels of salts in the Mon River in 2008 and 2009 caused problems for industries and drinking water systems.

One of the solutions in the past was to release water from Tygart Lake to dilute the salts. That may not be available this year: Tygart Lake was just closed for the season, two months early, due to low water. The lake is losing six inches a day, the Charleston Gazette reported last Tuesday, and is expected to be 23 feet below its normal summer pool by Aug. 2.

That leaves management of salts in the Mon to two other solutions.

Pennsylvania asked municipal wastewater treatment systems in 2011 to stop accepting gas industry brine because their technology doesn't remove the salts but passes them through to receiving streams. That is already in place.

And discharge management, as referenced in the Post-Gazette story, can withhold brines during low stream flow periods and release them during higher flow periods.

Given that discharge management is not usually needed until August, it remains to be seen whether it will be enough this year.