Tapping into Newest Issue
Threats to area waterways increasingly in headlines
Morgantown Dominion Post - EDITORIAL
9 September 2012
Threats to our region’s water quality have never stopped flowing.
But public awareness of the value of our water has emerged as one
of the most important issues to the public in recent times.
Although our wells and creeks are not running dry, the concern is
Recently, at the scene of one of the most disastrous incidents in
a Monongalia County waterway — Dunkard Creek — another spill
occurred, that set off a scad of phone calls to our newspaper.
It wasn’t the same, as say, if Woodburn Hall was on fire, but you
might have thought there was a shootout taking place.
However, we dodged a bullet that time, unlike the massive fish
kill there in September 2009, that resulted in the death of scores
of aquatic species.
To its credit, the company responsible for the recent spill of
that nontoxic drilling lubricant did the right thing by calling in
the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and getting
everything contained quickly.
A settlement was reached in the aftermath of the 2009 spill that
resulted in $5.5 million in civil penalties. But more importantly,
it called for a new, $200 million water treatment system to better
control pollution discharges from that company’s mining operations
in that area.
And last month, we also learned that the struggle to clean up
Deckers Creek, also in Monongalia County, was dealt another
setback when federal funding was shifted to projects outside our
That waterway has suffered the polluted drainage from a mine that
was abandoned in nearby Richard more than 60 years ago.
Marcellus shale drilling has played a big role in stirring up
water quality issues. Though, by and large, the incidents of this
industry contaminating water supplies and aquifers is isolated and
Yet, we think it’s in the best interest of all local communities
and counties to form a compact to ensure our waterways are
We all have a vested interest in monitoring and ensuring that
regulations already on the books are enforced and that the DEP
does more inspections. Legislators should also be prepared to
revisit these laws to update them.
Much like coal and natural gas, our state also happens to have a
vast supply of clean water, a resource that is a valuable
commodity around the world.
Though the future of coal, the deterioration of our roads,
Medicaid funding and other issues are on the front burner now,
water quality should at least be on the stove.
It’s high time we find common ground on this issue.