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Georges Creek, Maryland - Nonpoint Source Success Story

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SnapshotGeorges Creek Watershed map

The Georges Creek Watershed lies in the western part of Allegany County, Maryland. The communities residing within the watershed have been faced with two challenging water resource problems. Due to persistent flooding, many areas have experienced economic loss and personal hardship. In addition, a combination of acid mine drainage and combined sewer overflows have severely impacted water quality. Georges Creek is lasted as impaired under Maryland's 303(d) list due to acid mine drainage, nutrients and suspended sediment, and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). Because of the poor water quality, a workgroup consisting of federal, state, local, and non-profit entities used a collaborative planning approach to develop the Neff Run Watershed Restoration Plan.

Restoration Plan

Downstream of culvert upgrade; stream stabilization work on main stem of Neff Run

In February 1999, funding was made available to develop this restoration plan through Project Impact: Mitigation Other Than Acquisition Committee (MOTA). In order to develop a comprehensive management plan, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Watershed Services Division conducted a Stream Corridor Assessment Method (SCAM) survey of Neff Run in 1999. This survey identified problem areas such as bank erosion, acid mine drainage, pipe outfalls, fish barriers, trash dumping, and other unusual conditions along Neff Run. The Neff Run Watershed Restoration Plan consisted of two parts designed to outline community-based strategies for protecting and enhancing water quality, stream stability, habitat, and recreation opportunities in the Neff Run Watershed, a small tributary of Georges Creek.

Implementation - Phase One

As part of the Georges Creek watershed restoration efforts, the Maryland Nonpoint Source Program has helped fund a two-phase $391,265 restoration effort within Neff Run. Phase I called for the removal of a major fish blockage and installation of rock cross vanes and j-hooks in order to reduce stream erosion. Also, approximately 4,000 feet of fence and stream bank protection was installed in order to stabilize the stream. This implementation would not have been a success without the help of volunteers from the Georges Creek Watershed Association, Nemacolin Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Boy Scout Troop 9, and students from New Dominion School and Maple Run Youth Center, all of whom participated in the buffer planting activities. The combination of all these extraordinary efforts resulted in a sedimentation/siltation reduction of 1,795 tons per year.

Installation of fencing along the stream

As education certainly plays another important role in cleaning up the Gorges Creek Watershed, the local elementary students did their part by participating in a special event called Water Day.

Implementation - Phase Two

Phase II of the project has recently been completed. An additional fish blockage was removed that had previously prevented the migration of fish upstream. The fish blockage was the result of a concrete-encased sewer that had been exposed due to erosion and down-cutting of the stream. Rock cross vanes were installed downstream to elevate the streambed and eliminate the blockage. An additional 1,000 feet of streambank and stream channel was restored with assistance from the Allegany Soil Conservation District. The stream channel was stabilized by installing sixteen rock cross vanes. According to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Phase II resulted in significant reductions in sediment loads to the stream: 450 tons of sediment per year have been saved by these efforts. The Maryland Bureau of Mines is also addressing acid mine sweeps at three sites of the Phase I project and two sites of the Phase II project by installing limestone leach beds. Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. toured the Neff Run project in July 2004, as part of a business tour through Western Maryland.

Results

Culvert/fish block before restoration

In 1999, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Fisheries Service - Restoration and Enhancement Division conducted a comprehensive fish population and stream habitat survey in the watershed. At the time, specific stream portions in the Georges Creek Watershed were not considered degraded due to the presence of brook trout populations and other coldwater fish populations. However, there was a documented loss of populations due to decreased water quality and degraded stream habitat. Since this 1999 survey, three fish species have repopulated Neff Run, including central stonerollers, rosyside dace, and white suckers. The efforts made in both Phase I and Phase II of the project have resulted in fish species recolonizing and more abundant populations.

Fish Species
A list of common and scientific names of fish species
collected in Neff Run and Matthew Run, Allegany County, MD 2002
Common Name
Scientific Name
Central Stoneroller Campostoma anomalum
Rosyside Dace Clinostomus funduloides
Blacknose Dace Rhinichthys atratulus
Creek Chub Semotilus atromaculatus
White Sucker Catostomus commersoni
Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis

 

Relative abundance of fish species collected in Neff Run and Matthew Run, Allegany County, MD 2002
CPUE (fish/hr)
Fish Species Neff Run upstream of Matthew Run Neff Run
Judy Miller Farm
Neff Run downstream of Dan's Rock Run Matthew Run downstream of Acid Mine Drainage
Central stoneroller 0 0 133 0
Rosyside dace 0 4 61 0
Blacknose dace 22 164 623 0
Creek chub 70 94 42 6
White sucker 0 8 0 0
Brook trout 7 0 0 13
Total species = 3 4 4 2
Looking to the Future

Culvert upgrade for removal of blockage & increase stream flow

Improvements to Georges Creek have been successful, but to ensure continuous protection of the water resources, the Georges Creek Watershed Association holds monthly public meetings in which various watershed issues and potential solutions are discussed. The association remains optimistic, saying that in the future they envision healthy streams that support wildlife, while also allowing for public development of the area around the creek.

Mid-Atlantic Nonpoint Source Pollution Initiative

EPA Region 3
Philadelphia, PA 19103
EPA/903/F/05/004B
May 2005

For more information on nonpoint source pollution, TMDLs and restoration practices, please check out EPA's Region 3 Nonpoint Source Program web page.

Partnerships and Coordination
Contact Information

Craig Hartsock (Craig.hartsock@md.nacdnet.net)
301-777-1747
Allegany Soil Conservation District Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
12407 Naves Cross Road, NE
Cumberland, MD 21502

Fred Suffian (suffian.fred@epa.gov)
215-814-5753
U.S. EPA Region 3
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Ken Sloate (ksloate@mde.state.md.us)
410-537-4216
Maryland Nonpoint Source Program Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21230

Joe Mills (jmills@allconet.org)
301-689-6764
Maryland Department of the Environment
Bureau of Mines Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
160 South Water Street
Frostburg, MD 21532

Larry Lubbers (lubbers@dnr.state.md.us)
Watershed Services Unit Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21401

Sam Thrasher (gcwatershed@mindspring.com)
301-463-3074
Georges Creek Watershed Association Exit EPA Click for Disclaimer
P.O. Box 112
Lonaconing, MD 21539

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