The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that the Friends of the Cheat in partnership with West Virginia University’s National Mine Land Reclamation Center have been awarded a 2005 Targeted Watershed Initiative grant of $835,000 to help restore the Cheat watershed.

This relatively new and highly competitive program is designed to encourage successful community-driven restoration approaches and innovative management techniques to protect and restore the nation’s water resources.

The primary objective of this project is to strategically apply various acid mine drainage treatment technologies to restore water quality in 27 stream miles of the Muddy Creek basin within the Cheat River watershed,said Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the Center.Different treatment types will be evaluated in terms of costs and ecological benefits.

Dr. Ziemkiewicz anticipates that the outcome of this three-year project will provide a more effective framework for restoring the maximum number of stream miles within watersheds from acid mine drainage impairment.

The Center is an internationally recognized leader in the development of acid mine drainage treatment technologies. As principal investigator, Ziemkiewicz will be working with Dr. Todd Petty of WVU ’s Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences to measure the chemical and biological benefits of various treatment scenarios.

The nonprofit watershed organization, Friends of the Cheat, has been working since 1994 through private and public partnerships to restore the Cheat River , provide diverse recreational opportunities and grow and sustain the local economy.

The Watershed Initiative grant provides a unique opportunity to further reduce a substantial acid load to the Cheat River and to develop a cost-effective restoration framework that could be transferable to other sub-watersheds within the Cheat and elsewhere throughout Appalachia,said Keith Pitzer, executive director.

The proposal was selected from 75 nominations received from the governors of 40 states.

Both Pitzer and Ziemkiewicz expressed their appreciation to Gov. Manchin and the state Division of Environmental Protection for nominating the Cheat proposal for the grant.