It was about a week ago when the Friends of Deckers Creek found out it would not be receiving $3-million in funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service for its Richard Mine clean-up project, but Monday the group did receive some better news.
On Monday afternoon at the Friends of Deckers Creek Outdoor Learning park, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it is giving more than $55,000 to the Friends of Deckers Creek. It's a step in the right direction toward cleaning up acid mine drainage in the creek.
"Without fixing the Richard Mine, Deckers Creek has a polluted corridor," said Martin Christ, the water remediation director for FODC. "We're here in the back of all the buildings, from here almost all the way down to the Monongahela River, they're built with their backs to the creeks as if it's a problem. In fact, it's an asset."
The EPA is giving the group $55,600 through an Urban Waters Small Grant. The amount is a small drop in the bucket compared to the $3-million the organization recently lost out on, a hurdle the organization is simply ‘taking in stride.'
"The creek is polluted… And the mission we've take for ourselves is to fix it, and we're going to do that," said Christ.
The lost funds would have secured money to build a treatment plant to clean the water. The construction is expected to cost more than $3-million.
The EPA's grant will certainly not cover those costs, but will go towards research for the project and community outreach.
"Educating the public and getting them to understand their connection to their water ways is really more than half the battle," said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin, "and they're doing a great job at that. So we wanted to come out and recognize the funding we are giving them, but really recognize the effort that they are doing."
The FODC said every minute, 400-gallons of acid mine drainage dump into Deckers Creek from the mine, and that a clean creek would sustain better life in the water and be a vast improvement to the community.
"It's not just an important natural resource, it's an important supply of drinking water, as well it can be a very strong economic engine for the community," said Garvin.
"The activities, not only what they are proposing to do but this history of this organization really had them rise to the top and we really felt the funding we provided them could really go a long way," said Garvin. "They could leverage it in a lot of different ways and have a great impact on the community."
The FODC is always looking for volunteers. To find out how you can get involved and be a Friend of Deckers Creek visit the group's web site.