FODC Gets $55K EPA Grant
Director: Money will fund research of treatment plant
Morgantown Dominion Post
21 August 2012
By David Beard
On the heels of a setback to its Richard Mine acid drainage
project, Friends of Deckers Creek (FODC) celebrated a success
Monday afternoon — and restated its commitment to continue moving
With local officials and watershed boosters in attendance, FODC
announced a $55,600 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grant to
keep the project rolling.
FODC Water Remediation Director Martin Christ said the money will
go toward technical research to develop a design for the drainage
treatment plant, and to begin a public education campaign to
advise business owners and economic development leaders about the
economic potential of restoring the creek and forming a community
partnership to move forward.
“We have a lot going for us,” Christ said. “We’re confident that
the resources and leadership exist in Morgantown.”
Last week, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
reallocated $2.9 million of federal Small Watershed Program money
to another project. NRCS said at the time there was no local
sponsor, only partial funding and no way to complete the project.
Christ said Monday the defunct Richard Mine, about two miles
upstream from Morgantown city limits, discharges 400 gallons per
minute into the creek. The discharge pumps about 2 tons of acidity
and 700 pounds of metals into the creek per day. The water is
generally clean upstream from the mine and loaded with fish, FODC
said, but orange and largely lifeless downstream.
The NRCS Deckers Creek reclamation project included the Richard
Mine and 12 other mine projects. NRCS completed projects at six
sites, and the West Virginia Department of Environmental
Protection (DEP) completed projects on four sites. Of the
remaining three, the Richard Mine is the only major source of acid
NRCS previously said it had about $2.9 million to build a Richard
Mine treatment facility, but no money for design. And the $2.9
million wouldn’t be enough to build a facility.
Christ said Monday the remaining obstacles are land acquisition,
design costs and the now-lost construction funding. But — “The
Richard Mine is not such a big problem it can’t be solved.” They
have the support of the city of Morgantown and the Morgantown
Utility Board (MUB), NRCS data on the best way to treat the
drainage, and a DEP pledge to provide 80 percent of the operation
and maintenance costs for 20 years.
EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin said FODC has “lots of
really good momentum” and the EPA Urban Small Waters Grant will
help them leverage new opportunities for funding and community
buy-in and engagement in its vision for the creek.
FODC Executive Director Liz Wiles said their goal is to have the
entire length of Deckers Creek swimmable and fishable by 2020.
MUB General Manager Tim Ball said FODC won’t allow the funding
setback to define the drainage project. “It will be defined by
achievement of our shared vision for a healthy Deckers Creek.”
A healthy creek will spur increased stream use, he said, leading
to new development and economic investment.
Evan Hansen, with Downstream Strategies water research firm and
former FODC treasurer, put some estimated numbers on that
potential development: $15 million in one-time benefits, $3
million per year in ongoing benefits. But the Richard Mine project
is the key. “The entire watershed won’t really be fixed until we
Morgantown City Manager Terrence Moore and Councilwoman Jenny
Selin mentioned the city’s efforts to help the project so far and
pledged their ongoing support. Moore said there’s no specific
financial support at this point, but they would be willing to
revisit that possibility if the right circumstances arise.