The Dominion Post
July 30, 2003.
By Evelyn Ryan
Nine Greene County, Pa., residents have proved you can make a difference.
The nine formed the Greene County Watershed Alliance to, among other things, try to clean up the Dunkard Creek watershed. Dunkard Creek originates in Monongalia County and meanders across the state line before heading into Pennsylvania. Once across the state line, she said, it becomes polluted.
Evelyn Andrianos, an Alliance member, said they gambled when they applied for a federal Environmental Protection Agency Watershed Initiative grant. The group was only formed in October 2000, and had a small membership, she said.
"You could apply for up to $1.3 million," she noted. "We asked for $935,000 -- and they gave us $800,000."
A celebration Friday will recognize the efforts of the alliance and Stream Restoration Inc., which received a grant through Pennsylvania's Growing Greener program, Alliance President Terri Davin said.
Events begin at 10:30 a.m. Friday as a sign is unveiled. A check presentation starts at noon, with a groundbreaking ceremony at 1 p.m. All this takes place on the Mathews property on Taylortown Road in Dunkard Township, Pa.
This public-private partnership will restore part of an unnamed stream polluted by abandoned mines. The acid mine drainage will be passively treated to remove iron, aluminum and other pollutants that enter Dunkard Creek, Davin said in announcing the event.
Project highlights include:
- Developing a hands-on environmental education program relating to wetlands, aquatic, and uplands habitat along with a mobile environmental education facility.
- Installing a kiosk overlooking Dunkard Creek at Mason-Dixon Historical Park in Monongalia County, with information about the watershed.
- Cleaning up a large trash dump in the watershed.
- Creating about 3 acres of naturally-functioning wetlands with about 30 native plant species as well as wildlife habitat.
The biggest step will be to significantly improve six miles of Dunkard Creek by neutralizing about 250 tons per year of acidity and eliminating more than 50 tons per year of metals coming from abandoned mines. This will be done through an innovative treatment complex.
"Education is the biggest focal point for us," Andrianos said. "Just because this stuff has been here for years doesn't mean we can't fix it now. Some of the kids don't ever remember when Dunkard Creek was clean."
The Dunkard Creek watershed covers a 235-square-mile area in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
The EPA funded only 20 of the 176 applications it received. Key to receiving a grant was that it be a community-driven effort to improve water quality, protect natural habitat and enhance outdoor recreation.
In announcing the grant in May, the EPA said, "Dunkard Creek supports warm water fisheries in almost the entire stream, which has been devastated by drainage from abandoned coal mines. The Watershed Alliance will use the funding for the restoration of abandoned mine drain streams, bird and bat habitat improvements, solid waste removal, and public outreach."
Regional and national experts selected the 20 winners, the EPA reported. These winners were chosen because they-best demonstrated the ability to achieve on-the-ground environmental results in a short time frame.