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Mining related impairments affect nearly 500 waterbodies in West Virginia. EPA Region 3, with the support of West Virginia Department Environmental Protection (WVDEP) and Tetra Tech, Inc. have developed TMDLs for two thirds of the mining impaired waterbodies in West Virginia to meet the requirements of a 1997 consent decree. TMDL development addressed a variety of case-specific requirements related to water quality criteria, water use designations, source pollution conveyance methods, and permitting in large-scale watersheds (e.g., Tygart, Monongahela, West Fork, and Tug Fork watersheds).

TMDL development for the Tug Fork watershed provided additional and often complex inter-jurisdictional challenges. The Tug Fork watershed is located in southern West Virginia draining portions of West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia. Given the watershed location and size, coupled with the need to develop load allocations for over 1,000 mining related NPDES permits, raised a number of inter-jurisdictional issues and required close coordination among federal, state and private entities. The effort required cooperation of many different departments of three state agencies and EPA Regions 3 and 4. Issues related to differing water quality criteria and water use designations as well as listing criteria for each state's 303(d) lists were resolved among WVDEP, Kentucky Department of Environmental Quality (KYDEQ) and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VADEQ). In addition, WVDEP, KYDEQ and VADEQ provided watershed specific physiographic and environmental monitoring data for TMDL development. Kentucky Department for Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (KDSMRE) and WVDEP Division of Mining and Reclamation also provided specific information for over 1,000 mining permits in the Tug Fork watershed. EPA Regions 3 and 4 coordinated efforts regarding TMDL work plan scheduling as well provided technical guidance for TMDL development.

In addition to federal and state agency cooperation, stakeholder involvement also played an important role in the TMDL development for the Tug Fork watershed. Residents of West Virginia and Kentucky participated in a volunteer water quality monitoring program with WVDEP and KYDEP by collecting and transporting samples during watershed-wide monitoring sweeps. In response to a request by WVDEP, 27 individual mining companies provided nearly 100,000 records of monthly in-stream monitoring data in a usable format, which greatly improved the accuracy of loading contributions from active mining facilities.

The development of the Tug Fork TMDLs is an example of an exceptional cooperative effort from federal, state and private entities addressing many different inter-jurisdictional issues that resulted in derivation of over 250 individual TMDLs.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2002

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