Projects Started to Remediate Embattled Creek

Morgantown Dominion Post
28 June 2013


(FODC) is privileged to have a devoted community following. Residents of Monongalia and Preston counties have shown support through continued contributions to further the FODC’s goals.
Such support is greatly appreciated and illustrates the extent to which citizens of the watershed care for the environmental integrity of the land called home.

However, many people are unaware of all the activities in which FODC is involved, such as construction of acid mine drainage (AMD) treatment projects designed to improve water quality in Deckers Creek and its tributaries.

The main contaminants in AMD are acidity, iron and aluminum, which result from minerals and clays dissolving when exposed to water and oxygen.

The acidity and aluminum are toxic to aquatic life. The iron destroys aquatic habitat. The iron precipitates (produced when iron comes out of solution) range from yellow to orange to red in color and are the most easily seen pollutant related to coal mining.

Prior to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), water discharges from coal mining operations had no liable owner and could discharge into local waterways without treatment. Since SMCRA, mining operators are responsible for treating their water discharges.

What about the discharges from pre-law or abandoned mine lands (AML)? Stated in Article 3 of the Clean Water Act, remediation projects on these lands qualify for funding through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

In 2005, FODC developed a watershed-based plan to address high-priority contamination sources in the watershed and to become eligible for federal and state funding to plan, design and construct AMD remediation projects. The plan identified 12 high-priority AMD sources, including the Richard Mine, the largest source of AMD in the watershed. FODC started remediation projects for four of these sources and is working on two more, all in the upper watershed.

FODC is moving to the construction phase of a new AMD remediation project. Patriot Mining Co. has allowed FODC to use part of a Patriot-owned AML to build several treatment measures. The project will address AMD entering Kanes Creek, a Preston County tributary to Deckers that is among the most heavily AMD-affected tributaries.

Treatment measures will include a flushing limestone leach bed followed by several settling ponds. A Preston County contractor has been hired to complete construction, as FODC prefers to involve local companies as much as possible.

The leach bed adds alkalinity to the AMD. Alkalinity results from the dissolving of limestone and neutralizes acidity. By neutralizing the acidity, water loses its ability to contain dissolved metals. The metals then precipitate out to be collected in the settling ponds. The resulting water is neutral with decreased concentrations of dissolved metals. Since FODC began installing AMD projects, we have seen positive results on water quality.

Through support on the community, state and federal level, FODC continues its mission of improving the natural qualities of the Deckers Creek watershed after a century and a half of environmental degradation. To be a part of this; visit and click on the “Donate” button.

FRIENDS OF DECKERS CREEK is a nonprofit watershed group. its column runs monthly. To contact the group, call 304-292-3970 or visit