Save the Sharp Farm of Pocahontas County
History and heritage in Slatyfork, West Virginia.

Sewage at Snowshoe - What To Do, What To Do

Saturday June 16, 2007
West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

By Julian Martin

In the eighteenth century, William Sharp was one of the first settlers in the headwaters of Elk River in Pocahontas County. Eight generations later the Sharp family farm is owned by Tom Shipley, William Sharp’s descendant. Tom owns and operates the Sharp’s Olde Country Store, Bed and Breakfast & Museum on Big Spring Fork. If present plans are carried through the Sharp Family farm will be the unwilling recipient of toilet flushings from Snowshoe resort and future “development.”

The Pocahontas Public Service District wants to build a 1.5 million gallons per day sewage treatment plant three hundred yards from Tom Shipley’s business. They are threatening eminent domain.

The raw sewage will travel five miles through ten inch pvc pipe to get from Snowshoe to the treatment plant. The pipe and the plant are to sit on top of what is known as karst geology. Karst geology is limestone that has been dissolved by water forming caves.

Sink holes are common in karst geology. One such huge sink hole recently opened up about thirty yards from the Sharp bed and breakfast. The main concern is that a sinkhole could collapse under the plant or the pipe line. If the pipe line breaks or leaks, it will dump raw sewage into the caves, springs and headwaters of Elk River.

Eight Rivers Safe Development has put together a very convincing power point presentation concerning the danger of building raw sewage lines and a treatment plant over such unstable geology. This presentation has been made to the Pocahontas County Commission and the Pocahontas Public Service District. At those presentations I read The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy resolution in support of the Eight River’s campaign to find a safer way to dispose of Snowshoe waste.

An odd twist to this issue is that the Snowshoe Homeowners Association is opposed to the sewage plant. They will see their taxes increased if the public service district replaces Snowshoe’s present plant with one on the Sharp farm.

Among the twenty-five supporters of Eight Rivers Safe Development proposals at the public service district meeting were representatives of West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the WV Sierra Club, WV Trout Unlimited, the National Speleological Society, the WV Outdoor Sportsmen’s Association and the Snowshoe Homeowners Association.

Tom Shipley does not want to sell his land for the sewage plant. He does not want the smelly, brightly lit eyesore on his beautiful farm and so close to his business. He is equally concerned about the raw sewage spilling into the caves, springs and underground streams that become the Elk River headwaters. Pocahontas County residents recently cast a vote against the sewage plant and eminent domain when they elected a newcomer to the county commission. He used the Sharp farm sewage issue in his campaign against the incumbent president of the commission.

To consider a petition and for more information go to, [this site],