Pollution Guide

Construction Stormwater Pollution

The Environmental Protection Agency’s stormwater program requires construction sites engaged in clearing, grading, and excavating that disturbs one acre or more to obtain a permit. All of these sites must prepare a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan which includes measures to minimize the disturbed area and protect natural features, control stormwater flowing onto and through the project, stabilize soils, protect slopes, establish sediment barriers, and retain sediment on-site.

Watch for sediment being washed onto roads or into streams, failing erosion control measures such as silt fences, and/or construction sites larger than one acre with no erosion control measures such as silt fences. If you see any of these problems, please report them to the proper authority or FODC.

Who to contact:

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP)
Environmental Protection Agency

WVDEP Monongalia County
(304) 368-2000 x 3724

WVDEP Preston County
(304) 822-7266 x 3603

Morgantown Utility Board
(304) 292-8443

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Stream Dredge and Fill

Dredging is the excavation of silt, sediment, or clearing of vegetation from wetlands, streams, rivers, or upland areas. Filling is the deposit of any material into wetlands, streams, or rivers. Alteration of wetlands and surface waters can have a detrimental impacts on the environment. These impacts could extend beyond the limits of the dredge or fill site. Dredge and fill can result in degradation of water quality, increased erosion, downstream sedimentation and loss of agnatic habitat for sensitive species. Wetlands are essential to the environment. They provide habitat and food sources for birds, aquatic life, and wildlife. Wetlands also serve as flood storage areas during heavy rainfall. Dredging and filling can increase flooding and also reduce populations of fish and wildlife.

Watch for heavy machinery removing or adding soil or vegetation to streams and wetlands.

Who to contact:

Army Corp's Pittsburgh District
Pittsburgh District Waterways Inspector
(412) 395-7247
Report activity to USACE

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Suspicious Oil and Gas Drilling Activity

Well pads for Marcellus shale drilling operations require roughly four acres of level land. During this clearing and grading process, drilling companies are required to have storm water permits and must prevent sediment from being washed off the ground into streams. They are also required by law to protect streams and wetlands from dredge and fill. If gas companies plan to impact a stream or wetland for access roads, pipelines and/or drill pads, they must obtain a federal permit and mitigate for those environmental losses.

Each drill site requires millions of gallons of water to extract the natural gas through hydraulic fracking. If withdrawn from local streams, this could pose a problem for aquatic life, drinking water sources, and livestock water supplies downstream. Further, 10 – 30 % of the total water used returns to the surface with the extracted gas. This is called “flowback”. Flowback contains salts and fracking chemicals and can be hauled off site for treatment and/or disposal or diluted, treated, and used again. Because drilling companies do not have permits to discharge pollutants to waterways, they are not allowed to discharge ANY water into streams. Therefore, the only way that flowback can enter streams is through spills or illegal discharges.

Watch for sediment being washed onto roads and into streams from well pad construction, water being discharged into streams, water withdrawals that cause streams to flow extremely low, and truck spills.

Who to contact:

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP)
File an Electronic Complaint with DEP

Environmental Protection Agency
Natural Gas Drilling Tip Line

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Illegal Trash Sites

Litter is not only unsightly, but it can also have negative impacts on aquatic life. Large appliances, cleaning products, and electronics can leach chemicals that are harmful to fish and aquatic macroinvertebrates.

Small littered items can also have a big impact. Cigarette butts, snack wrappers and take-out food and beverage containers are the most commonly littered items. Did you know that cigarette butts are NOT biodegradable, are concentrated with chemicals and toxins such a benzene, formaldehyde, ammonia, acetone, nicotine, arsenic, and tar, and are the most littered item in America? Studies have shown that a single cigarette butt in about two gallons of water is lethal to water fleas, a tiny crustacean found in fresh and salt water. Perhaps the easiest and best way to help curb cigarette butt litter is by speaking out if you see someone litter: politely ask him or her to please avoid littering and offer the nearest trashcan or ashtray.

Watch for illegal dumping or properties that appear to be unsafe or unsanitary. Kindly ask litterers to properly dispose of their trash and cigarette butts.

This is an infographic  helps to put the trash problem in the Deckers Creek Watershed into perspective.

Who to contact:

Monongalia County Solid Waste Authority
(304) 288-8401

Preston Country Litter Control Officer
(304) 329-7031

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Untreated Sewage

Untreated human sewage can pose serious health risks in our local waterways. It can enter streams from straight pipes, an out of date and illegal practice still common in West Virginia. Home septic tanks can also become overloaded during the rainy season or simply grow old and fail and allow untreated waste to flow into drainage ditches and nearby waters. During heavy rains, sanitary sewers can become overloaded and over flow, bypassing treatment. All three of these untreated sewage transportation methods are known to effect water quality with in the Deckers Creek watershed.

Agricultural practices such as allowing animal wastes to wash into nearby streams during the rainy season, spreading manure and fertilizer on fields during rainy periods, and allowing livestock watering in streams can also contribute to fecal coliform contamination.

Watch for straight pipes discharging into streams and report known failing septic systems. If it looks and smells like poop….it probably is.

Here is an infographic that will help explain how untreated sewage finds its way into our streams. 

Who to contact:

Monongalia County
(304) 598-5100

Preston County
(304) 329-0096

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