CHARLES TOWN - The Blue Ridge Watershed Coalition was recently awarded a $3,600 Stream Partners Grant, which it plans to use for a project aimed at reducing water runoff and hydroplaning at the intersection of Mission Road and W.Va. 9.
There are multiple parts planned for the project, and the coalition hopes to complete work by August or September, according to BRWC Chair Ronda Lehman. The coalition's goal is to preserve and protect the Blue Ridge Mountain's natural watershed.
"Basically we want to stop the water that runs out across Route 9 that causes a real bad place to hydroplane," Lehman said in a phone interview Tuesday morning. "... It gets to be quite a little stream rolling across there and it's right on the corner, but if you're not turning onto Mission Road you have to make the corner and there's a big stream of water rolling across there. It could be quite problematic, and there's no shortage of accidents."
The BRWC is planning to place rain barrels around the Mountain Community Center, which is located at the intersection, and there are plans to install rain gardens, a storage tank to hold rainwater, and riprap, which is material used to protect land against erosion.
The coalition chose the project because it felt that it would be visible to both Blue Ridge Mountain residents and Jefferson County residents who take W.Va. 9 to work each day. The project could also help reduce Jefferson County's contributions to the Chesapeake Bay's problems, according to Lehman.
"What we're doing is slowing down all that runoff that comes off the community center and rolls down onto Route 9, and that also in turn slows down the water on the way to the (Shenandoah) River, which is what takes all the particles and sediment out of it so it doesn't end up in the river and then downstream in the Chesapeake Bay," Lehman said.
While the BRWC currently doesn't have a definite cost for the project, it's hoping to receive community donations and is in the process of looking for additional grants for funding. St. Andrews Church is paying for the rain barrels, the coalition is receiving a donated septic tank to hold excess water and Lehman is hopeful the West Virginia Division of Highways will provide some of the riprap, according to Lehman.
Once the project is complete, the coalition will hold a public picnic to show residents what the project entailed. It's also hoped that when the results are viewed by Blue Ridge Mountain residents who have steep driveways that can be easily washed away during storms, they may take steps to prevent excess water runoff on their own property, Lehman said.
Three other organizations in the Eastern Panhandle were awarded a Stream Partners Grant this year, according to Eastern Basin Coordinator Alana Hartman with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
"In the Eastern Panhandle, a lot of (grant money) has been used for vegetation to filter and slow down stormwater runoff, so either buffers like strips of trees along streams or rain gardens," Hartman said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.
The goal of the grant is to encourage watershed improvement projects in West Virginia, and applicants must show a specific improvement project in their applications. The Stream Partners Grant program is a joint program between the state's DEP, Division of Forestry, Division of Natural Resources and the West Virginia Conservation Agency, according to Hartman.