It is happening all over the world, and the United States is no exception. Water resources are being stretched and challenged by the demands made by people. It is even happening here in what we have always seen in the a healthy, rich ecosystem we live in – the Greenbrier River watershed. And by and large, we are relatively healthy compared to many West Virginia watersheds, but did you know that our river is listed as an impaired stream due to fecal colifonn bacteria? Or that a study was done by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection which showed that the most likely cause of our summer algae blooms is phosphates coming out of our sewer plants?
Recent news articles have pointed out that the cost of repairing or replacing sewer plants is high, but did you know that Ronceverte’s antiquated plant has been cited and fined by DEP many times and that it just can’t handle the job it is being asked to do for its customers (including Lewisburg) now? State and federal funds are available for a limited time to help Ronceverte, White Sulphur Springs and Alderson plants to control the pollutants which are causing algae blooms, but this funding can’t cover the whole cost of the necessary improvements. So ratepayers and possible other grants and loans will have to cover the rest if we are to clean up the river.
A hearing on this matter will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, June 16 at Ronceverte City Hall. The West Virginia Public Service Commission is convening the hearing to decide whether to allow the City of Ronceverte to build their new sewage treatment plant. I hope people will come out and speak up for cleaning up the river and cutting back on the algae blooms.
As president of the board of Greenbrier River Watershed Association, I feel it is my job to advocate for the river in what is becoming an argument over how the job will be done and who will pay. I believe we all need to work together to preserve what is among our greatest assets in this beautiful area we are blessed to call home. If the river we depend on for drinking water, recreation and part of our identity as a community is compromised by our failure to care for the her, what legacy will we be leaving, indeed, what degraded economic circumstances might we be contributing to for future generations?