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WV Rivers News: Special Edition Flood Update

posted Jul 20, 2016, 12:29 PM by Kathleen Tyner
WV Flood Recovery Information and Updates

Dear Friends of WV Rivers,

It's been four weeks since record-breaking floods impacted much of West Virginia. Here at WV Rivers we've been collecting information to assess damage and prioritize the restoration and advocacy work ahead. Foremost is making sure that residents and small businesses are getting the assistance they need to fully recover. 

In the photos above you see some of the extraordinary volunteers that helped me — and many other flood affected West Virginians — in the immediate aftermath. It’s been incredibly inspirational to see in the midst of loss, fatigue and uncertainty the best of humanity emerge. Volunteers are still very much needed, please visit  Volunteer West Virginia to learn how you can help out.

This will be a long process of ongoing evaluation and problem-solving. Read on to learn about what we know so far about the impacts on our rivers and streams and pleasecontact us with your concerns and observations.

— Angie Rosser, Executive Director

What We Know: Impacts on Public Health
Untreated sewage from over 900 residences is draining into the Elk River. Photo by WSAZ.com.

After severe flooding, damage to wastewater treatment infrastructure is a big concern. We have confirmation from WVDEP that 8 sewage treatment plants have sustained damage. Observations and anecdotal evidence tell us that hundreds of private septic systems were affected. County Health Departments are responsible for issuing recreational contact advisories, but we found a lack of information being shared with the public in some counties. For more information on what we know about status of specific sewage treatment plant repair, water quality testing, and water contact advisories, visit our flood recovery webpage.

What We Know: Recreation Access and Safety
Damage to the Greenbrier River Trail by the June floods will cost over $2 million dollars to repair.

Part of recovering from the flooding is making sure that our rivers and streams are safe for boating, fishing and swimming. Large debris is a safety concern, as well as the health risks associated with exposure to increased bacteria in the water.

Many roads leading to public river access points are damaged. We’ve collected information about access road closures, as well as water trails damage, interfering with public access here.

What's Next: Flood Response Protocol
Flood debris. Photo by David T. Stephenson.

From our initial analysis we see room for improvement in communicating with the public on health and recreation safety. We will continue to review existing protocols and make recommendations on how to broadcast water contact advisories in an accurate, timely and effective manner. We are continuing to collate and review water quality data to verify that rivers are safe for recreation.

What's Next: Restoration Advocacy
Vehicle submerged in White Sulphur Springs. Photo by David T. Stephenson.

We will need your voice in making sure our rivers are safe and healthy for recreation and aquatic life. We will advocate for the full repair of sewage treatment plants, renovation of public river access points and roads, removal of problematic and toxic debris, and restoration of healthy habitat for aquatic life. Stay tuned for more information on how you can get involved.
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