When soil is disturbed, rain can easily wash loose dirt downhill and turn our stream muddy. Construction causes excess sedimentation, which degrades the stream as it washes downstream to the Potomac River.
The tremendous increase in development (residential, commercial, streets, parking lots, driveways) has resulted in an increase of impervious surfaces that has increased surface water runoff. Runoff carries contaminants such as petroleum products, lawn chemicals, heavy metals, animal waste, fertilizers, and pesticides that pollute the water.
The West Virginia Rural Water Association has observed presence of sinkholes within the watershed delineated area. These sinkholes provide a conduit for flow of contaminants into groundwater.
Broken Wastewater Pipes
Collection pipes from housing developments located within the Elks Run watershed run under and through our watershed. The geology of the Elks Run watershed mostly consists of Karst, a porous limestone bed that runs deep underground that allows water to drain through it rather than bubble to the top. When pipes break, we often don’t know about it because the sewage is draining downward into our water table.
Non-Point Sources of Pollution
The most significant contamination associated with non-point sources is nitrates associated with the use of manure, fertilizer, and pesticides which drain into streams and infiltrate into ground water from agriculture and homeowner activities.
The West Virginia Rural Water Association has observed that Elks Run is highly vulnerable due to the presence of railroad traffic which consists of a variety of commodities including tank cars containing oils, chemicals, etc. Hazardous material spills are a risk.
Data collected monthly at the Harpers Ferry Water Works shows that there is bacterial contamination of the Potomac River upstream of the plant intake especially during the summer months.
Proper garbage disposal is the responsibility of every person. Trash and other solid waste should not be dumped along the stream. Take pride in your community and keep it clean.