Muddy Creek, Cheat River conditions return to normal after recent high flow event

Preston

Courtesy: Paul Kinder

ALBRIGHT, W.Va. – Sampling conducted by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection indicates that stream conditions for Muddy Creek and the Cheat River are returning to normal after a recent high flow event at the former T&T Mine in Preston County.

As of Monday morning, the pH of Muddy Creek is within preferred water quality limits, and flows coming from the T&T Mine have returned to normal, according to a press release.

The DEP said it is working with the West Virginia University Water Research Institute, along with experts in the private sector and other state agencies to identify causation and develop solutions to prevent future events.

The event occurred Thursday when large amounts of highly acidic water began discharging from the former mine site, peaking at around 6,200 gallons per minute, the release explained. The DEP’s acid mine drainage treatment facility at the site, known as the T&T Treatment Facility, is capable of effectively treating 4,200 gpm to regulatory standards. The facility can sustain flows of 7,600 gpm before overflowing the system.

The DEP’s maintenance contractor determined that the sudden increase resulted in damage to the conveyance pipe carrying AMD to the facility and caused a section of the manhole to separate, which allowed 300 to 500 gpm to bypass the treatment system. The contractor is on site and making repairs, the DEP stated.

Since the initial blowouts at the former T&T Mine in 1994 and 1995, the DEP observed similar high flow events at the site in January 2003 and March 2015, but has not yet been able to determine a cause. Consultation with WVU-WRI indicates the possibility of stagnant pools of water within the mine are getting flushed out due to heavy rainfalls. Another potential cause is periodic roof collapses within the mine are displacing large volumes of water at one time, but the agency cannot confirm this theory due to it being unable to enter the mine, the release explained.

Staff members from WVU-WRI are on site Monday for additional sampling and assistance.

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