Pocahontas PSD Members Disagree On Sending Sends Karst Study To The WV DEP
Durbin, WV – Members of the Pocahontas County Public Service District board have a difference of opinion regarding the results of a survey of karst biology in the Snowshoe area. They don’t disagree on the content of the report, just whether it should be sent to the West Virginia Dept of Environmental Protection without further consideration.
The survey was conducted by hydrologists Dr. David C. Culver and William K. Jones at the request of the PSD. It’s a detailed study of stream flows in the Elk River basin, including several of the streams in the Snowshoe-Slatyfork area. Dye tests were used to trace the flow and velocity of the streams. Field studies determined types and amounts of cave fauna in the karst limestone that lies under the area.
After reading the report, PSD board chairman Mark Smith says he’s okay with sending it as presented to the DEP. Fellow board member Tom Shipley disagrees, saying the report raises some serious concerns regarding a possible spill or leak from the proposed regional sewer system.
“If you read this report, it says in it that the flow from Cupp Run and any companion pollution if there was a spill, would pretty much immediately get into Big Springs Fork” says Shipley “and within hours it would be in Sharps Cave and in about 30 hours it would down near the Elk River in the spring that comes out.”
The report cites spills in Virginia, Kentucky and Slovenia under similar circumstances where cave fauna was destroyed and the caves took a decade or more to recover from the initial spill.
“If we have an option to still serve the people and still take the issues of the consent decree at heart, with a plant or project that doesn’t pose that risk, we ought to jump on it” says Shipley.
PSD member Amon Tracey had this to say about the survey.
“We didn’t have to do this to start with” says Tracey. “We chose to do it just to show some respect and some of the people wanted it. Now we got it, now we’re going to argue over whether it’s not right or not. We did it, there it is I make a motion that we send it to the DEP.”
The motion passed two to one with Shipley opposed.
In other business, sewer manager Lloyd Coleman gave the board an update on recent smoke tests performed in the Hawthorne area. He says they were not as elucidating as he had hoped.
“We ended up not discovering a whole lot” says Coleman. “I guess the biggest benefit from doing it is we went around and opened every manhole and got another look at the system. I don’t think it will ever be fixed unless we replace it.”
Coleman says it’s not just replacing the pipe in use. There’s also the issue of abandoned pipes. He says they can either pull them out of the ground or turn them into storm sewers. He says the latter option would probably require additional engineering work. The cost of all this could be upwards of half a million dollars.
The board also approved placing an ad for an attorney in local and state newspapers, requesting resumes be submitted to the board by August 20th.