West Virginia Water Research Calls Three Fork Creek Restoration - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

West Virginia Water Research Calls Three Fork Creek Restoration Project A Success

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GRAFTON -

World Water Day is an annual event that aims to raise awareness about the importance of fresh water.

The theme for 2013 is "cooperation around water".

A small celebration was held in conjunction with World Water Day to recognize the restoration of Three Fork Creek in Grafton.

"What the Water Research Institute at West Virginia University does is a service to the state," said Paul Ziemkiewicz, WVWRI Director. "When the state has an issue and asks for our help we're always perfectly interested and very excited about working with the state and local watershed groups in order to clean up their watersheds."

Three Fork Creek was severely impacted by acid mine drainage, turning the creek orange and causing fish to die.

"It would cause fish kills all the way down to Fairmont, West Virginia," Ziemkiewicz said. "All of Three Forks Creek was wiped out due to mine drainage. There wasn't a single fish left."

Bringing a 19 mile creek back to life isn't something that happens overnight.

"We have recovered this creek that was dead for 50 years," said Leroy Stanley, Save The Tygart Watershed Association. "It was one of the premier trout streams in West Virginia at one time back in the 40's and 50's. Now we have a recovering stream with lots of wildlife and lots of fish."

"We did a survey last fall at several places on Three Forks and found that fish populations have essentially went from zero fish two to three years ago to thousands of fish now," said Frank Jernejcic, Division of Natural Resources.

And it isn't cheap.

"The capital cost of that project was about $800,000 or so," Ziemkiewicz said. "The annual maintenance cost is between 150-200 thousand dollars a year."

But, every penny was worth it.

"It's just something you can always say we accomplished this together," Stanley said. "West Virginians came together and got the job done."

Now that Three Fork Creek is alive again, the 'Save the Tygart Water Association' wants to keep it that way.

Anyone who litters or dump trash could receive a fine.