A Creek Roiled with Doubts
Decision to shelve project to treat drainage a tragedy
Morgantown Dominion Post - Editorial
19 August 2012
You can wade into Deckers Creek and trace the drainage from the
Richard Mine back more than a half a century.
It’s easier than you think. Just follow the grotesquely stained
creek bed from its mouth into the Monongahela River in the Wharf
District to where rivulets of acid mine drainage — in Richard —
flow into the creek.
But tracing modern efforts to clean up this woefully polluted
waterway is not that simple, nor do they flow as consistently as
the trace metals into this creek.
In the recent past, efforts by the federal Natural Resources
Conservation Service (NRCS), the state Department of Environmental
Protection, Abandoned Mine Land Program, Morgantown’s City
Council, the Morgantown Utility Board, the nonprofit Friends of
Deckers Creek and others have all ended in a flood of doubt.
Just last week, we learned of — after the fact — $2.9 million the
NRCS allocated to pay for building an acid mine treatment plant at
the abandoned Richard Mine was reallocated to another project.
That funding covered the plant’s construction costs, but there was
no money designated for design work. Aside from the issue of
partial funding, there also was no local government sponsor to
operate and maintain the plant, which put it outside the legal and
practical limits of the act providing these funds.
Morgantown had offered to be a sponsor, but NRCS determined the
proposal would not meet requirements.
We question how this decision was reached before those affected by
it were in any position to query or reverse it. Why not a public
hearing on such a tragedy?
And why can’t we find a public utility, a public body, the public
will to clean up a rusty gash running directly through our
What does it take? Would it matter if it rolled by our doorsteps
and through downtown?
Well it does, and it does matters that we’ve let $2.9 million
dribble through our fingers that could have helped treat this
If this drainage is not corrected, our city and the Morgan
District of this county will continue to have a polluted corridor
pouring through it.
We call on all our leaders in this city, this county, these
legislative districts and in the environmental community to not
let this decision rush by like polluted water under a bridge.
Deckers Creek is not just an embarrassment. The metals in acid
mine drainage prevent microorganisms, plants, insects and fish
from living in its waters. No, the fish aren’t biting. They’re not
And if you do go wading in this unnatural stream, you won’t rust,
but you’ll smell like it.