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Preston dam rehabilitation will benefit area residents and advance IWSS research

Ground was broken on an $8 million rehabilitation of the Upper Deckers Creek Site 1 Dam in Preston County on August 7. The dam, built in 1969, will be increased by 10 feet in height to bring it into current design and construction standards and to create a dedicated water supply for Public Service District No. 1 in Arthurdale. The restoration is a collaborative project between the West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA), the Monongahela Conservation District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and West Virginia University (WVU) that will result in improved safety for local residents, savings for some Preston County water customers and research for faculty and students.

Rendering of the Upper Deckers Creek Site 1 Dam

“The dam will continue to provide the flood protection it has provided, as well as a dedicated source of water that will allow Preston County to continue to grow,” said WVCA Executive Director Brian Farkas.

The project, led by the WVU Institute of Water Security and Science (IWSS), will allow faculty and students to conduct research that will track hydrologic flows, pollutants, and wetland structure and function before, during, and after the Dam’s restoration efforts.

“This is a progressive collaboration between the Institute, West Virginia Conservation AgencyNatural Resources Conservation Service, and other organizations,” said Dr. Jason Hubbart, Director of the IWSS. “The collaboration provides the opportunity to further IWSS research, while saving costs, contributing toward local conservation efforts and benefitting the community.”

The dam restoration project will take place in conjunction with a planned upgrade to WVU’s J.W. Ruby Research Farm in Reedsville which is supported by the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust. The WVCA will provide additional funding to provide support for four research projects that will examine the before, during and after effects on Ruby Run and the development of the reservoir at the J.W. Ruby Research Farm. The four research projects will quantify hydrology, suspended sediment and other pollutants of concern; quantify and characterize ecological response to the restoration activities; provide an aerial inventory of landscape alteration during the restoration life cycle; and develop an interpretive and education plan focused on the restoration efforts and the various natural resource data being collected.

“Through the IWSS and WVU Davis College, we are able to have that intersection between mitigation and education,” Farkas said. “We saw a place where we could do this project and benefit the college and the farm at the same time. By doing this, we are saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in mitigation costs, providing considerable savings for the public service district rate payers.”

“It’s a win-win in many ways, including a rare opportunity to monitor the before and after effects of cutting edge mitigation practices,” added Hubbart.