WVRC'S CURRENT WORK
Marcellus Shale and Hydraulic Fracturing
Over the last decade natural gas development throughout the Marcellus Shale region, a deep shale layer below most of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, has come to the forefront of West Virginia environmental concerns. West Virginia Rivers Coalition is working to education citizens on what the Marcellus Shale is and what development of shale means for West Virginians. We are also working hard to ensure legislative policies are in place to protect our valuable water resources. In 2010 we published a comprehensive report on Marcellus Shale development entitled “Drilling in the Marcellus Shale: An Overview of the Process and Issues in West Virginia”.
Chesapeake Bay and Potomac Campaign
The Chesapeake Bay is one of our nations greatest treasures. As a headwater state, West Virginia has an important role to play in the overall health and vitality of the Bay. WVRC has long been active in working to protect and improve the condition of our high quality headwater streams. Through our work in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, WVRC is helping to protect a valuable resource to West Virginia, and ensuring that West Virginia does our part to protect and improve the condition of the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay watersheds.
Source Water Protection
Drinking water is a resource we all use and we all need to do our part to make sure this resource remains clean and abundant for generations to come. WVRC's ground breaking pharmaceutical return program, the West Virginia Consumer Drug Return Partnership, plays a vital role in protecting our source waters from unwanted pharmaceutical pollution.
Excess prescription medications are a growing problem in West Virginia communities and waterways. WVRC's unique program the West Virginia Consumer Drug Return Partnership (WVCDRP) allows for the environmentally sensitive disposal excess medications. We have been a regional leader since 2008 with the launch of the WVCDRP and the program will to expand throughout the state. Please visit the WVCDRP section of our website for more information
Water Quality Standards
West Virginia has some of the least protective water quality standards of any state in the Union. For two decades, WVRC has been steadily working to improve the standards that are applied to waters across our state. WVRC has worked to bring about changes in the regulations governing water quality that have reduced the amount of pollutants allowed in our waters, forced the implementation of additional cleaning treatment of our waters and ensured the protection of our highest quality streams. We continue to work to improve agency regulations, implement stronger water quality regulations through the legislative process and educate the public about their rights to clean and protected waters.
"Stop the Fish Kills" Potomac Campaign:
In 2002, fish in the Potomac Highlands Watershed began turning up dead with no immediate explanation. Quickly following these first fish kill reports came the evidence that many fish in the Potomac watershed are displaying incidence of a condition called intersex. Since these first reports, WVRC has been invlolved in efforts to understand the roots of these widespread incidents of fish kills and intersex. Potomac Watershed.
WVRC campaigned to put stronger protections on our West Virginia rivers and streams through creating and enforcing stricter protection under the Clean Water Act’s antidegradation policy. This protects waterways from becoming polluted past a certain level. Through the creation of Tier 3 protection in WV, pristine trout streams are guaranteed to stay pristine. To learn more about our antidegradation policy advocacy please click here.
Ohio River Protection
WVRC plays an active role in keeping the Ohio River healthy; we worked to prevent a measure which would allow more bacteria filled sewage to enter the mighty Ohio during wet weather events. We will continue to monitor the health of the Ohio and ensure it meets Clean Water Act standards. To learn more about our work in the Ohio River Valley please click here.
We helped successfully facilitate river access for the 2005 Gauley Whitewater Season and we continue to support the vision of the Gauley River properly managed and protected by the National Park Service.
WVRC supports The "Wild Monongahela" efforts of the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition because where there is wilderness protection there is also stream protection.
WVRC worked diligently on behalf of Preston County landowners who nominated their backyard stream, Watkins Run, for Tier 2.5 protection. Watkins Run became the first WV stream ever successfully designated as a high quality Tier 2.5 resource under the public nomination process of the states antidegradation policy. Today it is now listed as a Tier 3 waterway.
Watershed Permit Assistance Program
WVRC has provided water protection workshops to watershed groups, engineers and consultants in West Virginia and around the region. Please visit our permit assistance page for more information.
WVRC created a 60-page technical wastewater manual for distribution to local watershed groups in West Virginia for understanding, correcting and enforcing solutions to the ongoing problem of inadequate wastewater treatment in West Virginia.
Other issues facing West Virginia's Rivers and Streams
Acid Mine Drainage
Protecting Streams from Becoming "Dead Zones"
Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) is currently the main pollutant of surface water in the mid-Atlantic region. AMD is caused when water flows over or through sulfur-bearing materials forming solutions of net acidity. AMD comes mainly from abandoned coal mines and currently active mining. AMD degrades more than 4,500 stream miles in the mid-Atlantic region with the loss of aquatic life, and restricts stream use for recreation, public drinking water and industrial water supplies.
Over 1,000 Miles of Streams Buried and Counting
Coal mining has been at the heart of West Virginia's identity -- and turmoil -- for well over 100 years. But as technology has allowed coal production to soar in the last few years, it has also meant the destruction of the Mountain State's hills and streams by mountaintop removal coal mining and the resulting valley fills.
West Virginia is the 4th worst state in the nation when it comes to Mercury pollution. WVRC is monitoring the problem and taking action when needed. We have fought to lower the amount of Mercury allowed into the Ohio River and we recently won a permit appeal which curtailed the amount of Mercury PPG Industries could eject in to the Ohio River.
Non-industrial land use activity is presenting new threats to West Virginias most pristine river corridors, including timbering in the Cheat, Big Sandy and Blackwater canyons and development proposals in the New River Gorge.
Industry Investors vs. Community Investments
Industry continues to lobby and undermine the water quality standards for West Virginia Rivers. Recently, WVRC countered an industry-led violation of public participation laws related to toxic pollutant criteria.