Water Quality
Point Source Discharges
Water pollution is either point or nonpoint. Point sources enter the environment at discrete, identifiable locations. Usually, they can be measured directly or otherwise quantified. Major point sources of pollution include effluent from industrial and sewage treatment plants and from farm buildings or solid waste disposal sites. West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection data indicates that there are approximately 30-35 NPDES permits active in the West Virginia portion of the watershed with 80% of those being mining related. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, there are 10 NPDES point source discharges in the Pennsylvania portion of the Dunkard Creek Watershed. Of these discharges, all ten are sewage treatment discharges. There are no industrial plant discharges.
Permitees of the NPDES discharges are required to submit monthly discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) from sewage plant effluent monitoring. Typical permit parameters are carbonaceous biological demand (CBOD5), suspended solids, ammonia, nitrogen, pH, fecal coliform, total residual chlorine, dissolved oxygen, and flow. These reports are kept on file in the Pittsburgh Regional DEP Office and DEP McMurray Office. The DEP Bureau of Water Quality Protection conducts periodic inspections of sewage plants and monitors for compliance with permit conditions. Generally, sewage treatment plants in the Dunkard Creek watershed are well maintained and operated and are in compliance with permit conditions.
Nonpoint Source
Nonpoint pollution enters the environment from diffuse sources. These sources may be land-based or airborne; for example, storms washing fertilizers from croplands or automobiles emitting lead in exhausts. Pollution from nonpoint sources is relatively difficult to isolate and control.
The generation of nonpoint-source pollutants is intermittent, occurring largely during storm events. Nonpoint-source pollution episodes thus occur less frequently and for shorter periods of time than point discharges. The amounts of pollutants mobilized from nonpoint sources relate to flow conditions. During periods of high runoff, stream flow is high, leading one to expect that this might have a diluting effect on the concentration of pollutants. Usually, this is not the case because flow rates equate to the energy needed to dislodge and mobilize particulates. The nature of the source itself is also an integral part of this equation. Therefore, it is difficult to generalize about the loadings and concentrations of pollutants produced.
Significant nonpoint sources for the Dunkard Creek Watershed include failed septic systems, mining and logging areas, livestock farming areas, runoff from waste sites, and construction sites. From all sources of nonpoint pollution, sediment comprises the greatest volume by weight of materials transported. Other pollutants can be transported in association with sediment (absorbed pollutants) or in solution (soluble pollutants). Surface mining operations pose a significant erosion problem because large tracts of bare soil and rocks are exposed. In fact, erosion occurs in almost all abandoned coal mines. The soil losses, while local, can be high. Haul roads are an important source of sediment.
Pastures can be found in fair abundance in the western portion of the Dunkard Creek Watershed. Croplands, on the other hand, are sparsely scattered throughout the watershed. Although erosion rates on cropland are not a direct measure of the sediment reaching streams, they remain important values for pinpointing areas where sediment problems may occur. While soil losses from pastures generally fall within tolerable limits, nonpoint source pollution occurs where overgrazing is continuous. When properly managed, forest and pastures pose no imminent threat to surface water quality. But the rapid, unplanned conversion of this land to row crop agriculture has proven to be environmentally disastrous. Furthermore, the continued cropping of corn following corn, which is often necessary to keep a farmer financially viable, may greatly accelerate soil erosion.
Cropland and pastures contribute almost 7 million tons of nitrogen and 3 million tons of phosphorus annually to the nation's surface water-almost 70 percent of the total loads. Livestock farming in the United States produces about 2 billion tons of wet manure per year, which contains 7 million tons of nitrogen and 2 million tons of phosphorus. High concentrations of ammonium, bacteria, and organic matter in manure can contaminate surface waters when animals are allowed direct access to streams. Contamination can be delivered in shock loading to streams adjacent to and downhill from barnyards and feedlots.
The livestock pollution problem is extremely difficult to define and deal with because it is highly dispersed and involves farm units ranging from large feedlots to small dairy operations. It is safe to say that it constitutes an exceedingly important and active source of nonpoint pollution. One major concern is the potential for shock loading of streams with toxic ammonium when barnyard runoff directly enters a watercourse. Such shock loading may have greater impacts than point source loading over the same area.
Toxic metals, including lead, zinc, copper, chromium, cadmium, nickel, and mercury, are important water pollutants in populated areas. This source of pollution is of lesser importance due to the small number of populated areas throughout the watershed. Most metals arise from transportation activities, building materials, and some industries. The metals generated by transportation activity result from exhaust discharges, grinding of engine parts, rusting of metal body parts, and tire wear. These metals are easily transported to storm sewers, and the delivery ratio is high.
Dunkard Creek Water Monitoring
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection began water sampling in the Pennsylvania portion of the Dunkard Creek Watershed in April of 1996. Eight sample points were chosen on the main stem of Dunkard Creek, which were monitored on a monthly basis. Eight tributaries were sampled on a three-month rotation. The tributaries that were sampled are as follows: Garrison Fork, Toms Run, Hoovers Run, Roberts Run, Rudolph Run, Shannon Run, Calvin Run, and Meadow Run.
Figure 6 Figure 7
The West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection contracted the services of Sturm Environmental to do the water sampling in the West Virginia portion of the watershed. They began sampling five points on the main stem of Dunkard Creek and five tributaries on a monthly basis in July of 1996. The tributaries that were sampled are as follows: West Virginia Fork, Miracle Run, Days Run, Jakes Run, and Dolls Run. Table 6 lists the sample points for both states along with their locations. Refer to the map in Figure 6 & 7 for exact locations of sample point.
TABLE 5. Sample point locations
Sample Description Latitude/Longitude
DC-1 PA Fork Dunkard 394329 / 802108
DC-2 Dunkard Creek, PA 394326 / 801550
DC-3 Dunkard Creek, PA 394332 / 801542
DC-4 Dunkard Creek, PA 394358 / 801505
DC-5 Dunkard Creek, PA 394501 / 800335
DC-6 Dunkard Creek, PA 394521 / 800029
DC-7 Dunkard Creek, PA 394539 / 795832
DC-8 Dunkard Creek, PA 394535 / 795709
GF-A Garrison Fork, PA 394350 / 802003
TR-B Toms Run 394400 / 801655
HR-C Hoovers Run 394338 / 801540
RR-D Roberts Run 394343 / 801305
RR-E Rudolph Run 394410 / 801029
SR-F Shannon Run 394403 / 800539
CR-G Calvin Run 394450 / 800351
WV-1 Dunkard Creek, WV 394315 / 800535
WV-2 Dunkard Creek, WV 394307 / 800559
WV-3 Dolls Run 394254 / 800659
WV-4 Dunkard, WV 394247 / 800728
WV-5 Jakes Run 394233 / 800742
WV-6 Days Run 394216 / 801014
WV-7 Dunkard Creek, WV 394258 / 801148
WV-8 Dunkard Creek, WV 394312 / 801424
WV-9 Miracle Run 394308 / 801428
WV-10 WV Fork Dunkard 394317 / 801618
The following table lists the sample parameters that were monitored during this study. Not all parameters were monitored by both states. The table lists the state monitoring each parameter.
TABLE 6. Parameters and Test Methods for Sample Data
Parameter State Test Method Reference
pH PA,WV 00403 STD METH-18 4500H-B
Alkalinity PA,WV 00410 EPA 310.1
NH3-N, Total PA,WV 00610A EPA 350.1
NO2-N, Total PA,WV 00615A EPA 353.2
Residue, Total Filterable PA,WV 00515 STD METH-13148B
Phosphorus, Total PA 00665A EPA 365.3
Hardness, Total as CACO3 PA,WV 00900A EPA 130.1
Sulfate, Total PA,WV 00945A EPA 375.2
Copper, Total PA 01042A EPA 200.7
Manganese, Total PA,WV 01055A EPA 200.7
T Organic Carbon PA,WV 00680 EPA 415.2
Specific Cond. UMHOs/CM PA,WV 00095 EPA 120.1
Residue, Total Nonfilter PA,WV 00530 EPA 160.2
Chloride PA,WV 00940A EPA 325.1
Iron, Total PA,WV 01045A EPA 200.7
Nickel, Total PA 01067A EPA 200.7
Zinc, Total PA 01092A EPA 200.7
Aluminum, Total PA,WV 01105A EPA 200.7
BOD 5-Day PA,WV 00310 STD METH-185210B
Acidity, Total Hot PA,WV 70508 EPA 305.1
Lead, Total PA 01051H EPA 200.8
Fecal Coliform PA,WV   STD METH-18 9221
The following parameters were also monitored in the field: pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and specific conductivity.
To supplement our sample data, eight acid mine discharges located along Dunkard Creek as well as 3 sites located near Interstate 79 were chosen to be sampled. The sites located near I-79 were chosen to determine the effects of the interstate on Dunkard Creek (road salts, etc.). Waynesburg College's Chemistry department, under the direction of Carolyn T. Connelly, Ph.D., volunteered to sample these sites. They sampled in November, December, February, March and April of 1996. The following parameters were monitored for these eleven sites: Iron, manganese, alkalinity, acidity, pH, chloride and specific conductivity. Figure 7 shows the acid mine discharge points sampled by the college.
To further supplement this sample data, Americorp sampled in Dunkard Creek upstream and downstream of four of the acid mine drainage sites. They sampled eight different sites on Dunkard Creek for the same parameters that Waynesburg College sampled. Their findings coincide with the findings of Waynesburg College. Figure 7 shows the sample stations for both the college and Americorp.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is in the process of studying 60 large river basins throughout the United States under the National Water Quality Assessment Program. Ten sites have been chosen to be monitored by the USGS throughout the Monongahela River Basin. Of these ten sites, Dunkard Creek is one of them. The USGS has sampled Dunkard Creek at the SR 2008 bridge in Taylortown, PA from April of 1996 through 1998. The goal of this sampling is to determine the effects of acid mine drainage on Dunkard Creek. They are presently in the process of interpreting the data. The data interpretation will be in 2 or 3 separate reports that will be published some time in the year 2000. The data is available anytime upon request through the USGS.
On October 6 and November 16 of 1998, PADEP conducted a watershed study of Dunkard Creek. The object of the study was to assess the biological health of Dunkard Creek according to its macroinvertebrate population. Seven stations on the main stem of Dunkard Creek were studied beginning in the Pennsylvania Fork downstream to the last wadeable section of the creek, midway between Bobtown and Poland Mines. The first six stations coincide with the PADEP monitoring stations DC-1 thru DC-6 found on the map in Figure 6. The seventh station was located downstream of DC-7. The invertebrate sampling was performed using a 1.5-m X 1.0-m kick screen with 0.5-mm pores. Each kick disturbed one square meter of substrate. Every site was sampled until no new taxa were recovered.