West Virginia cities. Many mining companies, like Gauley Mountain Coal Co. at Jodie, in Fayette County, many farmers, and many waterworks managements have written to Mr. Chapman, to Mr. Jennewine, and to Mr. Chisholm, telling them of the direct benefits to their drinking-water supplies. In some cases it was a small water supply for 300 people in a mining village; in others, a neighborhood supply for a group of farmers at a rural cross road; in others, a public water supply for many thousand citizens. All are loud in their praise for the work which changes bad acid water to good pure water.


The Cheat River was called upon unexpectedly to furnish the public water supply for Kingwood, Preston County, in the 1936 drought. Records of 26 former commercial mines on this watershed now sealed from 6 months to 2 years, which represent a typical cross section of the work on this watershed, showed the following acid reductions:

Original acid output equals 60,093 pounds acid daily; present acid output equals 15,425 pounds daily-a 74-percent elimination of acid. This is a reduction of over 22 tons of acid daily.

Thus Kingwood was able to get practically a neutral water pH (6.8); whereas, according to the local water company, the stream in the 1930 drought had an acid content pH of 6.2. State health department records showed an even greater acid condition-pH 5.3 in September 1929, when a tremendous fish slaughter took place.

The Tygart River public water supplies at Philippi and Belington are showing lessened acid content in the river water. Mr. Hileman, superintendent at Philippi, stated that the pH has improved from 6.0 to 6.6. Reference to page 7 shows the elimination of 30 tons of acid daily from Randolph County mines on Roaring Creek, Beaver Creek, and Grassy Run.

The West Fork River is the source of Clarksburg's water supply. Here the superintendent, Mr. Perkins Boynton, notes that there are practically no periods when the alum may be cut off, using lime alone to precipitate the iron and manganese as was possible a year or so ago. It is observed that there are longer periods of low turbidity after a flood, and turbidity never drops to zero, as formerly. The alkalinity goes to zero or lower at times, but not so often, and rises sooner than formerly.

The Monongahela River supplies Morgantown with drinking water throughout the summer months. It had an acidity of 40 parts per million formerly, but this summer the highest acidity recorded was 6 parts per million.

Harrison County, Monongahela County, and other counties contain many instances where farmers are now able to get satisfactory drinking water for stock. One stream in particular near Clarksburg, Davisson Run, was so polluted that all farmers below the point of mine-water pollution were forced to pump or haul water for their cattle last spring. The mines polluting this stream have been sealed. Today practically a neutral supply of water is available for this valuable farming section of the county.

Public water supplies and private water supplies are profiting greatly throughout West Virginia because of the sealing abandoned coal mines program.


Industry is cooperating heartily in the mine-sealing work. Mining companies are furnishing waivers to allow work to be done, and also frequently are giving lumber, brick, and other materials necessary in the sealing program. The Baltimore & Ohio Railway, through H. R. Gibson, superintendent at Grafton, on September 1, 1934, asked that we give attention to sealing old mines on Ten Mile Creek, Harrison County, because of an important railway-water-supply station at Lumberport using that stream for boiler water For the fall period of 1936, Mr. T. L. Starkey, the pumper here, reported marked decreases in acidity and general improvement of the water at the Lumberport station. For removing acids and minerals from the water, only about one-fifth as much chemical was necessary. Similar observations were reported by the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway from their watering station at Whitman Junction in Logan County. Likewise, mining companies at Roaring Creek Junction, in Randolph County, noticed and reported upon the improvement in water being used for steam-raising purposes.



Industry, which forms the backbone of West Virginia life and prosperity, must use the water of the streams. Railroads use the water for steam-raising purposes, as do the mining companies. Factories and industries must have large volumes of cooling water. The ordinary citizen little realizes the economic cost of acid water. Chemist E. C. Trax, McKeesport, Pa., who is familiar with acid water on the Monongahela River, estimated the daily cost of $2,196 to industries and water plants in a 50-mile stretch of this river on the following basis: Public water supplies (33 million gallons per day, at $12).

$396 Industrial softening (25 million gallons per day, at $12)

300 Cooling water (500 million gallons per day, at $3).

1,500 Daily cost.

2, 196 Yearly cost

801, 000


The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad chemists report substantial improvements on Ten Mile Creek at Lumberport, Harrison County, and changes at Whitman Creek in Logan County.

Ten Mile Creek examples on Baltimore & Ohio Railroad system




Chemical used

Amount of wg.

ter treated

August 1933.
August 1936.

36 grams per gallon.. 18 grams per gallon.. 546–456 soda, 290 lime...
14 grams per gallon.. .04.

90 soda, 68 lime...

80,000 gallons. 100,000 gallons.

R. C. Bardwell, superintendent of water supply for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, has noticed an improvement in Whitman Creek, Logan County. He bases his opinion upon daily reports at the railroad-water-supply point over a period of years. The contrasting average monthly alkalinites from 1931 to 1936—for January, February, March, April, and May-show the change brought by mine sealing:

(Minus signs (-) show acid; plus signs (+) indicate alkaline condition)

[blocks in formation]

This series of caves caused by the removal of pillars in the mine are filled in by the mine-sealing crews to prevent surface water entering the mine-there to become acid. Nany times only acid water is available for stock, hence the land is of little value for stock grazing. Farmers in Grant County, Harrison County, and Monongalia County testify to the acid water in the streams through their land becoming alkaline again when mine sealing is completed. Hundreds of letters testify to the great benefits to farm lands. Here is just one of them from Grant County. Mr. S. H. Hamlin, a farmer from Mount Storm, says: "The mine sealing being done in our county is an asset to all who come in contact with it. It has benefited my property at least $600. My cattle which roam in this section now get the best water at all times." Farmers living along Davisson Run and Elk Creek in Harrison County are likewise enthusiastic.


Harrison County, Grant County, Monongalia County, and many others furnish hundreds of cases where the farmers are directly helped by the substitution of alkaline, normal water for the poisonous acid water flowing from open mouths of abandoned mines.

Stoney River in Grant County is a typical stream in the northern division. It flows into the Potomac River. The farmers in this section are enthusiastic about the changes in the stream, as their letters to our men testify. A farmer living at Mount Storm writes that on his property four bad earth brakes, one dry masonry seal, and two wet seals were built. As a result his cattle get the best of water at all times. Mr. P. A. Dixon, ex-legislator and farmer, writes concerning the Cottage Street mine near Bayard that "they not only have removed the acid from Buffalo Creek and the Potomac River watershed, but they have improved the water to the extent of making it pure and wholesome for my cattle to use at these wet masonry traps which they constructed of rock and concrete."

The farmers on Davisson Run in Harrison County, which include Mr. Morrison, Mr. Cork, and others, all give credit to the mine sealing program for restoring the stream so that it can be used again by livestock.

At Horton Mine in Monongalia County there is low cover and much farm-land surface. Here by filling crop holes, over 5 acres of land suitable for grazing has been reclaimed.

On Elk Creek in Harrison County, fish had been killed out above Gnatty Creek for 10 miles. Now fish are living in the stream to Spall Run. Nine miles of formerly bad stream has been improved. Farmers near this source of pollution had to carry and pump water for stock. Now the stock drink water everywhere. Also 50 acres of meadow formerly affected by mine seeps and too sour for grass has been reclaimed.

CHECKING THE CATCH ON CHEAT RIVER Fishing streams throughout West Virginia, both trout and bass, demonstrate the usefulness of mine sealing in lessening the acid load. Citizens of Fairmont report a change in the aquatic life of the Tygart River; Tucker County fishermen report trout in Beaver Creek throughout its entire length; this stream now for the first time in many years is pure enough that trout can ascend to spawn. Here in Beaver, we note an 86-percent elimination of acid by sealing Beacon and Gatzmer mines. În Grant County, the Rod and Gun Club secretary writes: “The men employed in sealing old, abandoned mines are doing wonders in removing mine-water acids from the Potomac River watershed. It is possible again to see fish moving about in Stoney River, Difficult Creek, and the two Buffalo Creeks, these once good fishing streams."


As a typical example which can be duplicated hundreds of times, the Beaver Creek case in Tucker County will be given to show the good recovery in small fishing streams.

On December 21, 1936, our division superintendent, Fred Jennewine, reported as follows about the improvements in Beaver Creek:

“For many years Beaver Creek, the main branch of Blackwater River which enters at Davis, has been polluted to such an extent that it was unfit for fishing and did not support fish life for a distance of about 7 or 8 miles, or, in other words, until one had passed the Beacon and Gatzmer mines. These two mines produce practically all pollution entering Beaver Creek. Three years ago our original samples showed that 1,857 pounds of acid was formed every day by these two mines. Since sealing them we have reduced this acid production to 255 pounds per day, a reduction of 86 percent. The drainage now coming from the mine is in such small quantity and so much reduced in acid content that it is readily dissolved and neutralized as soon as it enters the stream. This summer, trout were observed in Beaver Creek along the entire length. The water was pure enough that for the first time in many years trout could ascend to spawn this fall. This office has had several comments on this particular stream from sportsmen who have observed the results while hunting or traveling through that section."

Conservation Commissioner Shawhan and his corps of men who patrol the streams report similar improvements in Coal River, Boone County. Cheat River is benefiting from the 26 mines sealed on this watershed in Monongalia, Preston, and Tucker Counties. There has been a daily reduction of over 45,000 pounds of acid. Twenty-two tons a day is a fairly good acid removal and it should help Cheat River as a fishing stream. In these sealed mines an efficiency of 74 percent acid removal has been obtained.

C. L. Chapman has some interesting observations on Roaring Creek in Randolph County. Here he says, "the red color is gone, there are fish living in the creek above

Coalton Dam 3 miles from the mouth, trout have come down stream 3 miles below the first mine pollution at head of creek. There have been no fish below this point for 25 years, till now."

[ocr errors]



Safety while working has been a slogan of the trained and experienced mining engineers who direct the air-sealing work in 22 counties

outhern West Virginia. A high degree of cooperation from officials and personnel of the Works Progress Administration has made possible the securing of the right type of labor, unemployed miners, living near the old mines, to carry on a successful, efficient program. Good work done under proper supervision makes for safety and also for a low maintenance cost later on. It costs approximately $1,000 to air-seal an average mine.

C. L. Chapman's summary record of acid by counties as shown on State summary

maps for end of fiscal year

[Taken as of August 1936]

[blocks in formation]

1 No samples. 2 No work done. 3 Not sealed long enough for results.

« ForrigeFortsett »