2016 has been a busy year for the Elks Run Watershed! The West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA) and Eastern Panhandle Conservation District (EPCD) are administering Elks Run’s 2nd Watershed Project Grant of $68,200.00, made possible through EPA’s Clean Water Act Section 319 Program. This grant, coupled with $45,780.00 in state and local match, will fund water quality monitoring, education and outreach in the form of a pet waste campaign to encourage picking up and disposing of pet waste, and repair or replacement of failing septic systems. Through this grant, we hope to identify and address sources of Fecal coliform bacterial contamination.
In addition to the ongoing volunteer monitoring conducted by the watershed group, we are eager for additional water quality monitoring and source tracking to begin. EPCD has contracted a bi-monthly monitoring program with Downstream Strategies, based out of Morgantown, WV, and not to be confused with The Downstream Project. They will sample 10 sites twice a month for seven months as long as water is present and accessible for a cost not to exceed $19,200.00. Additionally, EPCD and USGS have entered into an agreement through which USGS will conduct microbial source tracking. They will sample at all ten monitoring sites during two sampling events: one during wet weather and one during dry weather. Samples that test positive for fecal coliform bacteria will be further analyzed to determine the source of bacteria (human or cow). USGS will provide this service for a cost not to exceed $7,480.00.
If you are a resident of the watershed, hopefully you received a post card in the mail with information about EPCD’s septic repair and pumping programs. Currently, you can receive a 50% rebate, up to $150 for having your septic system pumped. If your septic system is failing (not functioning properly and discharging waste into the environment), you can receive up to $7,000.00 in assistance after paying a $500 deductible towards the cost of repair. For more information about the septic programs, contact your local Conservation Specialist with WVCA at 304-263-4376.
On March 3, 2016 a Septic Installers Workshop was held in partnership with VAMAC, Snyder Environmental, Jefferson County Health Department, FujiClean USA, WVCA, and EPCD. At this workshop, local septic installers were able to learn about the Elks Run watershed, new septic programs available to Elks Run residents and how they work, laws and regulations governing septic installations in Jefferson County, and the newest technology on the market. Thirty-two installers and program partners attended the workshop.
In June and July, two stormwater management practices were installed through a combination of federal funding from EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, state funding, and local match. One practice was a large residential swale made possible through a Residential Raingarden/Swale Rebate Program and the other was a large rain garden installed at the Duffields Commuter Train Station. Both practices will receive stormwater runoff during rain events and filter the water into the ground, rather than letting it flow overland and carry pollutants such as bacteria, sediment, and nutrients into Elks Run or Elk Branch. These two gardens concluded Elks Run Water Quality Project that was funded by EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program. Through this $55,000 grant that was evenly matched with another $55,000 in state and local funding and in-kind contributions, we accomplished the following: installation of 3 rain gardens and 1 swale, 1 rain barrel workshop, 3 homeowner outreach videos, and 544 acres of cover crop planted. All of the aforementioned practices and projects are contributing to pollution reductions in the Elks Run watershed.