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FOC spreads awareness, addresses concerns about dam project

KINGWOOD — Work towards Friends of the Cheat’s goal of removing the Albright Power Station’s dam and creating an unobstructed waterway is continuing with public meetings to raise awareness and address concerns, while seeking more funding for the project.

At its most-recent meeting, Preston County Commission unanimously voted to sign two letters supporting FOC’s effort in two grants at the request of its executive director, Amanda Pitzer.

One grant is for $2.9 million from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s America The Beautiful. The other is for $1,272,122 from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Abandoned Mine Land Grant Economic Recovery Program. The second is for alternate road access, Pitzer said.

As of June 21, FOC has raised $1,489,820 of the estimated $4,530,070, according to an informational sheet.

“We are hustling many opportunities at once,” Pitzer said.

She also addressed a concern raised by Samantha Stone, the commission’s president: Will the project affect the intake for Kingwood Water Works? There’s no hydrological way it’s possible, Pitzer said. If it does turn out moving forward with the project would hurt the drinking supply, the project would end. 

At the water works meeting later that day, Jeremy Hise, a professional engineer and senior associate with Hazen and Sawyer, contracted by FOC, met with the board of the Kingwood utility to address that concern.

“What our study has shown through the hydraulic modeling is that that’s not possible. And that the extent of impacts do not go upstream of the ripple that’s at Elsey Run, which is approximately three miles away downstream of their intake,” said Madison Ball, program restoration manager for FOC.

Ball said FOC is going to send the data and modeling information to the water works board for internal review. 

FOC also hosted an open house on June 16 about the project with more than 70 people showing up, Pitzer said.

“Great conversation; talked about everything from fisheries to flooding,” she said.  “I had a great meet up with some property owners that we hadn’t met before.”

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