DEP, NRCS should make up lost time on treatment plant

In a sense, there’s still no light at the end of the tunnel that is Richard Mine.
It is still discharging 200 gallons of acid mine drainage per minute — 288,000 gallons per day, 105 million gallons per year.
Perhaps worse than the 730,500 pounds of acidity in this water are the more than 200,000 pounds of solid metals — iron, aluminum and manganese — in this poison flow.
All that metal, plus the acidity, turns Deckers Creek orange and leaves it relatively lifeless for the last 5.3 miles of this 23 mile-long waterway.
However, it now looks — 66 years after Richard Mine closed — as if this discharge will finally be treated before flowing freely into Deckers Creek.
Last week, Friends of Deckers Creek, a local nonprofit that advocates for this watershed, and the state Department of Environmental Protection, announced a new effort to build a treatment plant is on tap.
That effort partners the DEP with the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service to build the facility, while the DEP will operate and maintain it.
Just as important as creating this partnership is the land needed for the discharge site is now owned by the DEP and the NRCS allotment of $3.375 million is available to cover the plant’s design and construction.
We applaud Friends of Deckers Creek for its inspiring and dedicated efforts over the past more than a quarter of a century to clean up this waterway.
Though the FODC has consistently made progress on remediating this creek’s water quality, this final piece of the puzzle has eluded it and the Morgantown community for far too long.
It’s difficult to estimate a financial return on what this initiative can or will be, but we suspect it will go far beyond breaking even financially.
Matter of fact, the returns alone on public health, recreational opportunities, adding to property values and the aesthetics of a clean creek mat be priceless.
To ignore a dead creek streaming through this city and county may have floated in the past but not anymore.
Finally, we will no longer tolerate this kind of pollution to continue streaming through our area. In the interim, our newspaper will continue to update any progress or lack of on building this treatment plant.
There is no timeline for now to bring this facility online, but we urge the DEP and NRCS to make every effort to make up for some lost decades.
We think it important to impress upon the public and public officials that cleaning up this creek is imperative.
No excuse can hold water today that allows for the sins of mining’s legacy to contaminate our future.

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