Deckers Creek Projects Wrapping Up

Goat Mine work could be done in a month

Morgantown Dominion Post
23 May 2011
By David Beard
At the top of a wooded hill on a site just below Masontown, some acid mine water trickles out of the hillside from the defunct Goat Mine.

Just across the gravel road, the water from that seep and several others pours out of a black culvert and begins its mile-long journey down a limestone riprap channel to Deckers Creek.

The National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is in the final weeks of a stimulus-funded acid mine drainage remediation project on Deckers Creek. Goat Mine is the last of four project sites to be completed.

The limestone riprap doesn’t run the entire length of the channel, said NRCS engineer Joseph Seybert. The acid water runs along “several hundred feet” of riprap to the first of two rock sediment dams.

The dams are mounds of limestone built high enough to block the channel and let the water pool up. Sediments and metals precipitate out of the pooled water, which then trickles through under the dam, down the channel to the next dam, then a short distance though a bridge culvert and around a left-hand jog to the creek.

The pooled water is an unpleasant blue-green color, but that’s a good thing, said Pam Yost, an NRCS agricultural economist, who works with Seybert out of the Sabraton state office. The tint comes from the limestone and means the water is getting treated.

The limestone, a “big bank of alkalinity,” Seybert said, raises the pH of the acid water to bring it to a level where aquatic life can survive in it. “These are all steps toward getting that water to where it can support wildlife and recreation.”

These two dams, on private land owned by a hunting club, form the north branch of the Goat Mine project. There is a separate south branch, and a middle branch linked to the north.

Mountaineer Construction of Kingwood is working on the Goat Mine project site — Seybert said he learned that it was called Goat Mine because the miners used goats to pull the coal carts — and completed the Beulah Chapel site. The contract for both jobs — paid with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (AARA) funds — was $1.23 million.

Green Mountain Co. of Charleston did the other two sites — Laurel 1 and Laurel 2, feeding into Laurel Run above Masontown — for $576,211. The total ARRA funding for the Deckers Creek project, according to NRCS papers, was $4.89 million.

Seybert is pleased with the project. “We did our first post-construction tests out of the Laurel Run site and the results are very encouraging. The pH went way up,” he said.

All four sites employ a “passive treatment” system, Yost said. The limestone rocks do all the work. They will get inspected once a year, and have a projected 25-year lifespan. They may last much longer, but the iron in the water stains the rocks orange, and in 25 years NRCS may have to do more work, replace coated rocks, or even upgrade the technology.

Seybert expects the Goat Mine work to wrap up in about a month.