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Preliminary survey on stream bank restoration starts

It’s the perfect time of year to survey a creek.

Which is exactly what Catherine McElroy and Courtney Petracca, both geologists for Green Rivers LLC, were doing in the Marilla Park section of Deckers Creek Thursday.

Friends of Deckers Creek hired Green Rivers to perform a preliminary survey for a streambank restoration project from the White Avenue vehicle bridge to the pedestrian bridge, which connects East Brockway Avenue to the Deckers Creek Trail.

With waders on, survey equipment in hand and the temperature climbing to 60, the pair walked through the creek taking measurements.

“We’re just trying to get a jump start on everything before the leaves come out,” McElroy said. “Once the leaves are coming out, it gets a little harder to see all the satellites and get the survey completed. So it takes a little more time.”

McElroy said they didn’t have exact measurements available — they needed to analyze the data back at the office first — but that in some parts the water was deeper than her waders.

Deckers Creek is eroding in the Marilla Park channel and Green Rivers will use the data collected to design a proper, more-controlled, less-erosive condition, McElroy said. The project will also look to add structure and other fish habitat.

Jonathan Suite, operations manager for FODC, said with the Richard Mine treatment site coming online shortly, projects downstream have become more important.

“A lot of the pollution that makes Marilla so untenable and so nasty is going to be cleaned up. And you know, it makes it worthwhile to do further remediation in that section of the stream,” Suite said. “So acid mine drainage is a big concern there but even if that were cleaned up, just the fact that that stream is so channelized and so packed full of like sediment would, you know, make it not particularly hospitable for fish and the benthic macroinvertebrates.”

After the treatment plant is online and the bank restoration project is done, that section of the stream will be turned around, Suite said. He wasn’t able to give an exact date for the Richard Mine project’s completion as the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is in charge.

However, he said once it’s on, the effect will be immediately noticeable. Then, over time the built-up iron that coats the rocks will wash away and the stream should look better and better. 

As the pollution currently in the creek reaches the Monongahela River, its effect is lessened.

“They always say that the solution to pollution is dilution,” Suite said.

The upper section of Deckers Creek has been largely remediated and Suite said 10-inch trout have been pulled out of there by fishermen. It’s possible once the lower section is habitable, they could migrate there as well.

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