EPA Region 3
Topic: New Septic Systems Make a Difference in Rural West Virginia
Size: : 2,158k
Date: June 5, 2012
Lena Kim: Welcome to Environment Matters, a series of podcasts on environmental issues in the mid-Atlantic region. I’m Lena Kim.
In the Left Fork of the Mud River watershed - one of the poorest and most rural areas of West Virginia – old, failing septic tanks were causing major problems. Raw sewage was being discharged into rivers and streams, and in one case, the sewage regularly formed a pool under a family’s mobile home. The levels of e-coli bacteria in the local waterways were sky high.
The Lincoln County Commission, two West Virginia state agencies and local residents worked together to fix the situation. Federal Recovery Act funds were used to provide alternate wastewater treatment systems for 20 homes – one of three phases of an overall project.
Ric MacDowell, director of the Lincoln County Green Wastewater Project, says the work has made a world of difference for residents in the area.
Ric MacDowell: It’s had a really big impact, both on human health and on the health of the environment in general. I think one of the important things is that our County Commission made a definite commitment that the stimulus funding was going to go to the poorest folks in the area and help their lives. We’ve done follow-up sampling and that indicated that there’s been a definite drop in the e-coli levels. And so our tributaries in this watershed are all showing improvements in water quality.”
Lena Kim: The county continues to monitor the effectiveness of the new systems in reducing contamination in local waters. Ric says that one measure of success is the reaction of local residents like Barb and Steve Hess.
Ric MacDowell: They told me that it’s been a big help in many ways – not just that the streams and rivers are clearer, but it’s better for fishing, swimming and other activities. They’re very thankful for it and feel that it’s money well spent.
Lena Kim: For more information on EPA Recovery Act projects, visit www.epa.gov/recovery. And thanks for joining us on Environment Matters.