CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) will host a ribbon cutting celebration for its Muddy Creek Watershed Restoration Project on Friday, May 3 at 1 p.m. at the T&T Treatment Facility in Albright (directions below). The event is open to the public.
The project, which is proving to be a huge success in watershed restoration, is a public-private partnership between the WVDEP and Southwestern Energy through its ECH2O Water Conservation Initiative.
The lower 3.4 miles of Muddy Creek, a tributary into the Cheat River, have been devastated by acid mine drainage (AMD) due to mine blowouts from the T&T Mine Complex in 1994 and 1995, along with impacts from a multitude of other mining sites throughout the Muddy Creek watershed (primarily along Martin Creek and its tributaries).
Through the collaborative efforts of both state and federal agencies, an innovative approach to treating AMD was initiated for more efficient and cost-effective operations while still meeting permitting requirements. The WVDEP worked closely with federal agencies to develop the first watershed-based NPDES permit ever issued in the country.
Instead of having NPDES permits at multiple AMD treatment sites throughout Martin Creek, the WVDEP will now have one permit located at the mouth of Martin Creek. This permitting structure allows the WVDEP to treat AMD in-stream, thereby addressing both AMD sources from both bond forfeited sites, as well as sources from historical coal mines, which would otherwise go unregulated and untreated.
The T&T Treatment Facility, which went into full operation in March 2018, is a major contributor to the success of this restoration project. Located on Muddy Creek, approximately ¾ of a mile downstream of its confluence with Martin Creek, this treatment facility treats AMD from the T&T Mine Complex and the Preston Energy Mine Complex.
This state-of-the-art treatment system, developed in-house by WVDEP engineers, is capable of treating 6 million gallons of AMD per day and allows for remote operation and control.
Southwestern Energy contributed to the construction of a pipeline that transports overwhelming AMD loads from within Martin Creek directly to the T&T Treatment Facility. Without this pipeline, the AMD loads could possibly jeopardize the WVDEP’s in-stream permit compliance, as well as the success of this watershed-based approach.
The lower section of Muddy Creek was significantly impaired for decades from the effects of AMD, and devoid of aquatic life. Since initiation of this combined treatment approach, the WVDEP has been able to restore the creek to a natural state and maintain an optimum pH balance.
Most notably, the WVDEP and its partners have been able to reestablish biological connectivity throughout the entire 15.6 miles of Muddy Creek, and freshwater trout and early signs of aquatic life are beginning to emerge.
TO THE SITE:
From Kingwood, take Route 26 north for 6.7 miles. The plant is on the left side of the road.
From I-68 (Bruceton Mills exit), take Route 26 south for 8.3 miles. The plant is on the right side of the road.
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