On April 1st of 2013, Friends of the Cheat executed an exciting new partnership with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection: the Office of Special Reclamation,(OSR) a division of Land Restoration, has granted FOC a two-year agreement to monitor and adjust water treatment facilities in the Cheat River Basin. The project dedicates a team of technicians and a project manager to solely water quality monitoring and water treatment operations. FOC has hired four new employees, doubling the former staff to take on this large job.
The state of West Virginia mandates OSR to protect public health, safety, and property by reclaiming and treating water on all bond forfeited coal mining permits. Money secured from forfeited bond collections, civil penalties, and the Special Reclamation Tax on mined coal together fund OSR’s efforts and, by extension, the partnership with FOC. FOC will work closely with the OSR office in Philippi, as it is responsible for permits in the north-central portion of West Virginia.
The formation of this new partnership was catalyzed by the 2010 ruling in a lawsuit filed by environmental groups stipulating that WVDEP must apply for National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The recent legal change tasked OSR with the significant work of producing compliant discharges from its treatment facilities. As OSR’s workload increased,they sought a partner to manage compliance at these newly permitted sites. FOC was the perfect organization to take on this vital work. With our strong reputation as an adept and impactful watershed organization and a location to a large volume of OSR treatment sites, FOC was well positioned to secure the partnership.
System adjustments to active treatment sites and monthly water sampling constitute the principle work of the project. FOC is responsible for the care of 27 treatment sites that are in and around the Cheat River Basin. Be on the lookout for the new FOC staff. We will be making our rounds in FOC-logo-emblazoned vehicles, working to keep the Cheat River clean so that everyone can continue to work and play in and around this remarkable natural resource.