Source Water Protection – New River Water Treatment Plant

In the midst of the Freedom Industries chemical spill and Patriot’s coal slurry leak, the Plateau Action Network is concerned about the Source Water Protections in place for the New River District. This page will serve as a landing site for all things related to Source Water Protection, and we will also transmit important information to social media outlets.

What we know about the Source Water Assessment and Protection Program (SWAPP) for the New River Water Treatment Plant:

In February of 2011, Tetra Tech completed a Source Water Protection Plan for the West Virginia American Water New River Treatment Plant.  The intent of this document is to describe what West Virginia American Water Company (WVAW)-New River Regional Water has done, is currently doing, and plans to do to protect its source of drinking water. Although WVAW-New River Regional Water treats the water to meet federal and state drinking water standards, conventional treatment does not fully eradicate all potential contaminants and treatment that goes beyond conventional methods is often very expensive.

WVAW-New River Regional Water operates a community public water system that serves a population of approximately 26,800 people.  The water treatment facility is located along Bachman Road in Beckwith, WV. The plant is staffed and operated 24 hours a day. The plant and intake were constructed in 2000. The approximate capacity for the plant and pumping is 4 million gallons per day. The current average production is 3.3 million gallons per day.Water treatment processes include coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, and chlorination. There are 16 storage tanks and 9 booster stations maintained on WVAW-New River Regional Water’s distribution system, which allows for more than 3.2 million gallons of storage.

  • Source Water Protection Plan for the West Virginia American Water – New River Treatment Plant (Download here)

A Source Water Assessment Report was completed in March of 2004. This is only a preliminary step in the Source Water Assessment Planning process.  The next step in source water protection planning is to prepare a Source Water  Protection Plan. The protection plan incorporates the source water delineation assessment report and three additional sections: Contingency Planning, Alternative Sources, and Management Planning. The Plateau Action Network is currently inquiring about the existence of a Source Water Protection Plan for the New River District.

  • Analysis of the Resource Characterization and potential significant contaminant sources of the SWAP area for the WVAWC – New River District indicates that the water supply is susceptible to possible future contamination based on the following: The steep topographic setting, and the size of the Watershed Delineation Area present an increased potential for contamination. In addition, the 977 stream crossings provide the opportunity for an accidental release/spill of material to easily get directly into the stream drainage network. Source water protection efforts should be directed toward the establishment of an effective and efficient emergency response plan if one does not currently exist.
  • West Virginia Dept. of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health: Source Water Assessment Report WVAWC New River District (Download here)

New River Regional Water System – Zone of Critical Concern 

Delineation is the process used to identify and map the recharge area that supplies water to a well or spring; or the drainage basin that supplies water to a surface water intake. This area is referred to as the source water protection area (SWPA). One type of delineation for a surface water system is that of the watershed, or the catchment area which provides the water to the intake. See map below or (Figure 1, Appendix B) shows the extent of the watershed. The WVAW-New River Rgion Water watershed covers approximately 4,370,425 acres in the New River Watershed, including the entire area upstream of the intake beyond the boundary of the West Virginia state border, into Virginia and North Carolina. Because this is such an extensive area, WVAW-New River Regional Water cannot feasibly address all potential source water concerns within the area. However, the system can participate in watershed associations aimed at improving water quality and protection along the entire river.

For purposes of this plan, the WVAW-New River Regional Water SWPA delineation is referred to as the Zone of Critical Concern (ZCC). The ZCC is a corridor along streams within the watershed that warrants a more detailed study due to its proximity to the surface intake and due to the susceptibility to potential contaminants. The ZCC is calculated using a mathematical model that accounts for stream flows, gradient, and area topography, The length of the ZCC is based on a five-hour time of travel. The ZCC width is 1 ,000 feet from the centerline of the principal stream and 500 feet from the centerline of the tributaries draining into the principal stream. Figures in Appendix B show the ZCC, which covers approximately 4,1 40 acres.

What we know about the Freedom Industries Chemical Spill:
  • Charleston Daily Mail: In depth chronology of the Freedom Industries Chemical Spill. (Link here)
  • Appalachian Mountain Advocates: Lawsuit targests DEP, DHHR over Crude MCHM. (Link here)
  • Downstream Strategies Report: The Freedom Industries Spill, Lessons Learned and Needed Reforms (Download here)
  • Thinkprogress.org: “The Complete Guide to Everything That’s Happened Since the Massive Chemical Spill in West Virginia.” (Link here)
Investigative timeline:
  • 12/8/14 – Meeting with Fayette County officials, New River Clean Water Alliance members, and WV American Water representatives to develop shared expectations and a plan for collaboration to support Source Water Protection Planning for the New River Regional Water Treatment Plant. 
  • 3/20/14 – FOIA request fulfilled by the WVDHHR, (Download FOIA Response here)
  • 2/25/14 – FOIA requset to the WVDHHR about a Source Water Protection Plan for the West Virginia American Water Regional System.
  • 2/20/14 – FOIA Request by WVDEP is closed. WVDEP does not have a Source Water Protection Plan on file, and the request should be directed towards the State Health Department or WV American Water. A new request is being submitted.
  • 2/12/14 – A Freedom Of Information Act request was submitted to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection requesting all documentation regarding “the possible” existence of a Source Water Protection Plan for the New River District.
  • 2/6/14 – Tentative meeting scheduled with County Government to discuss contingency plans and emergency response protocols.