The Warm Springs Watershed Association is calling on the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) to hold a public hearing on the Berkeley Springs bypass.
The citizens group is concerned about flooding that might result due to construction of the bypass.
About 15 people met in Berkeley Springs last week to discuss the campaign – and another 35 or so were participating via computer.
“The opportunity to discuss mitigation was not afforded to the community because the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) completed a renewal of a 20 year old Environmental Impact Statement,” wrote Warm Springs Watershed Association President Lehman to Sharon Mullins of the WVDEP. “As a result residents are in the dark as to what, if any, mitigation will be done to offset the negative environmental effects of construction. We are concerned that issues that have been raised during public meetings have gone unheeded by WVDOH.”
Lehman said that the construction will “disturb a significant amount of land and impact 14,650 feet of stream and 14.8 acres of flood plain.”
“This amount of disturbance in a watershed already subject to flash flooding requires additional information not found in the permit application,” she wrote.
“Over 89 percent of the area is comprised of Weikert or Weikert-Berks Soils, with highly erodible fine silt and usually with less than 18 inches to bedrock,” Lehman wrote. “The soil has severe limitations for construction of embankments and ability to establish vegetation.”
“The watershed hydrology is increasingly subject to flash flooding resulting from lower amounts of rain than previously caused such events. It is a narrow watershed with a large amount of impervious area. The addition of a number of sediment basins have altered the time of concentration and appear to increase the number of out of bank occurrences resulting in increased flood damage. Adding additional basins without improving infiltration of collected runoff will exacerbate flooding for the community.”
The WVDEP says that if there is enough public interest in a hearing, they will hold a hearing.
Lehman is urging citizens to write to Mullins at the WVDEP.
The letters have to be sent via hard mail – electronic comments not allowed – and received in Charleston by October 9, 2020.
The Association has put together a list of talking points and the mailing address.
Lehman also has post cards that can be mailed in. Interested citizens can contact Kate Lehman at 304.279.0717.