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Watershed Partnerships Really Can Meet Water Quality Standards. The North Fork Potomac Watershed Partnerships: From 303(d) List to Clean Water

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The North Fork Project illustrates one of the largest (in area) documented successes of using the watershed partnership approach and many different funding tools to actually solve a documented water quality problem. Located on a scenic, high quality trout stream in the rural Potomac River Headwaters area it covers 45.8 stream miles and a drainage area of approximately 200,000 acres. Water quality monitoring conducted by U.S. Geological Survey between 1994 to 1995 revealed fecal coliform levels greater than 400 cfu/100 ml, a violation of West Virginia bacterial standards. As a result of this monitoring/testing, the North Fork was placed on West Virginia's Clean Water Act Section 303(d) list of impaired water bodies in 1996. A Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for fecal contamination was developed by USEPA Region III in 1998 to address this pollutant. As the result of the implementation of numerous best management practices (BMPs) funded under several Federal and State water quality programs, the water quality of the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River has improved such that the stream no longer exceeds listing criteria for the list of impaired or polluted water bodies in West Virginia [Federal Clean Water Act, Section 303(d) List]

The North Fork of the South Branch Potomac River Watershed is located in Pendleton and Grant Counties in West Virginia, with a portion of the watershed in Highland County, Virginia. The area within the watershed is predominantly forested, with agriculture as the second dominant land use. Beef and poultry enterprises are the main agricultural activities. Due to the rugged nature of the terrain, many of the concentrated livestock feeding areas and poultry operations were located on the narrow valley bottoms and floodplains adjacent to the streams. Using various USDA funds, USEPA Clean Water Act Section 319 grants, State Revolving Funds (SRF), along with other local funds, the watershed partners have achieved an 85% participation rate among the area farmers/growers. This paper will highlight that the watershed program with multiple agency partnerships, many different funding and watershed tools and the committed efforts of the individual farmers really can clean up a stream!
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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