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

Letter To Editor from Tolly Peuleche

Thursday December 13, 2007
The Pocahontas Times

Dear Editor:

The Elk Headwaters Watershed Association recently offered comments on the proposed consent decree to resolve issues of non-compliance by the Snowshoe sewer system. Our letter follows. We also feel that it is important to recognize that if the DEP is in favor of weakened discharge standards, there should be an accompanying moratorium on building, since new units will add even more load to an already inadequate system. If the ultimate fix for the sewage problems is a regional system, then Pocahontas County should support a comprehensive watershed plan to address overall development. Ground and surface water matters are urgently important world-wide, regionally and locally, let's not squander a fabulous resource, The Headwaters of the Elk River. There is no place for controversy where clean water is at stake.

Tolly Peuleche
Slaty Fork, WV

PO Box97
Slaty Fork, WV 26291

November 12, 2007

WV Department of Environmental Protection
601 57th Street, SE
Charleston, WV 25304

To Whom It May Concern:

In keeping with its mission to improve the quality of the Elk Headwaters watershed resources, the Elk Headwaters Watershed Association (EHWA) wishes to comment on the proposed consent decree to settle Civil Action # 03-C-29.

1. We are concerned and confused about the weakening of effluent limitations for Ammonia Nitrogen compared to the original NPDES permits. In some cases the limits are 5 to 10 times greater. Why were interim effluent limits necessary and how were these figures arrived at? DEP's own FNSI-WV 234 report states that current discharges into Cupp Run and Upper Big Spring Fork have the potential to contaminate the groundwater and the Sharp Cave System, so how can easing interim limitations be advisable especially when they could be in effect until 2009 or beyond? It is our understanding that excess ammonium nitrogen levels can increase eutrophication and algal blooms and cause nitrification and consequently lower dissolved oxygen concentrations.

Permit# WV0023311(Snowshoe Village)
  • Average monthly ammonia nitrogen in mg/l was 4.3, now is 20 in summer and 40 in winter
  • Average monthly ammonia nitrogen in lbs/day was 19.7, now is 45.87 in summer and 183.48 in winter
  • Maximum daily ammonia nitrogen in lbs/day was 33, now is 68.81 in summer and 275.22 in winter
  • Maximum daily ammonia nitrogen in mg/l was 7.2 now is 30 in summer and 60 in winter
Permit # WV0082937(Silver Creek)
  • Average monthly ammonia nitrogen in lbs/day was 5 in the winter, now is 15.0
  • Average monthly ammonia nitrogen in mg/l was 6 in the winter, now is 18.0
  • Maximum daily ammonia nitrogen in mg/l was 12 in the winter, now is 36.0
  • Maximum daily ammonia nitrogen in lbs/day was 10 in the winter, now is 30.0
Permit # WVG550692(Inn at Snowshoe)
  • Why is there no mention of changes to this permit when the others were modified significantly?

2. How can Snowshoe be required to support a regional plant, as stated in Section IV, Remedial Actions, when the design is not complete or approved?

3. By definition in the consent decree, an SEP is "a project or activity which improves, protects or reduces risks to public health or the environment at large." This proposed SEP involves Snowshoe giving valuable assets (treatment plant equipment) to the local PSD. Isn't this the same equipment that caused the operators to be fined in the first place? How will this improve, protect or reduce risks to the public?

To conclude, the EHWA feels that the proposed consent decree is inadequate in terms of protection of downstream water resources, particularly ground water. The agreement seems to be inappropriate and improper because of not putting the health and safety of the public first.

Elk Headwaters Watershed Association