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Polluted stormwater runoff into Mill Creek, a tributary of the Potomac River, from the North Mountain Shale Quarry, threatens a small trout stream, residential drinking water, and water for farm use. Although this runoff is permitted we appealed this permit and negotiated stricter monitoring requirements that requires water sampling of stomwater discharge for every 1 inch rain event. This requirement is not required for surface mining discharges in West Virginia.
One issue that was not resolved on the original permit appeal, was the use of flocculants to settle out sediment in the stormwater ponds. NMS applied for a permit modification to use flocculants. The permit modification showed that the toxicity testing results would harm fish species in Mill Creek. The permit modification was dropped pending additional testing. We are waiting on a new permit and toxicity data.
Status Update: A review of discharge monitoring reports showed that there was no discharge from the stormwater ponds in the last three years, despite significant rain events that produced excessive runoff in near by streams. In 2016, UPRK was awarded a grant to research the possibility that the stormwater pond is not working as it should. Two streams with similar drainage areas will be studied to determine if the stream flow between the streams is significantly different. One stream receives the stormwater pond discharge, while the other is free flowing. If the stream with the discharge is not flowing the same as the free flowing stream, then the stormwater pond should be holding water and discharging at a later time. If not, then the stormwater pond is not functioning as it should. This research project will be conducted from Spring through Fall in 2017.