What We Do
Several challenges face the Buckhannon River Watershed
By far, the most significant challenge faced by the Buckhannon River Watershed is from acid mine drainage. With a storied and proud heritage of coal mining in Upshur County, not all mines have proper remedial measures in place to prevent ground and surface water contamination. Under certain circumstances, the effort of taking corrective measures can fall to citizens' groups, such as BRWA Inc.
Other concerns, such as agricultural contamination and residential contamination, are less prevalent. Education has been a prime driver in reducing these sources of water quality impairment. Industrial contamination is low due to the lack of local manufacturing and similar industries that are often the sources of concern.
Coliform bacteria are also a focus of BRWA’s work because they correlate with disease-producing organism arising from fecal contamination of the water. Sedimentation is also of interest because poor river habitat quality correlates with heavy sedimentation. Finally, any cause of soil erosion and contamination, such as destructive all-terrain vehicle use, continue to pose risks to the watershed.
The state and federal agencies involved with aspects of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and procedures that flow from the CWA encourage citizen participation.
Nonpoint source water pollution
Nonpoint source pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters. This is the most common type of water pollution problem and what BRWA Inc. focuses on the most.
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Challenges Facing Our Watershed
Acid Mine Drainage
Many coal mines closed before reclamation practices were articulated and enforced in the way that they are today. In other cases, land or mine ownership may change hands, and owners may assume proper reclamation or remedial practices have been implemented. With the significant dispersion and concentration of historically active coal mines in Upshur County, acid mine drainage is a top priority among the several challenges facing the watershed.
While in many cases far removed from the old days when everyone had a privy, raw sewage from residential sources remains a significant concern in low lying areas. Other sources of residential contamination from improper disposal of chemicals and waste, is less of a concern.
While educational programs and cooperative cost-share opportunities from the state and federal levels have helped greatly reduce agricultural contamination, only a small minority of farmers have not implemented best management practices (BMPs), such as exclusion fencing, feed barns, and waste storage facilities. Many farmers who have not implemented BMPs are not aware that funding is available to help them.
As the areas included in the Buckhannon River watershed do not include significant industrial operations, industrial contamination is of a lesser concern, but there are identified specific concerns.