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Upper Tygart Valley Watershed Project

The Elkwater Fork Dam with fall foliage. A paved accessible fishing area below the dam provides an area for those with physical impairments to fish in the stilling basin.

The Elkwater Fork Dam with fall foliage. A paved accessible fishing area below the dam provides an area for those with physical impairments to fish in the stilling basin.

In 1993, several towns in Upper Tygart Valley Watershed in Randolph County, W.Va., experienced a dangerous shortage of water. At a critical point, the water plant was within 72 hours of completely running out of water. Soon after that, local community groups, interested citizens and government agencies began working toward a solution to avoid future water shortages.

The solution they ultimately settled on was to build a dam on the Elkwater Fork of the Tygart River. The dam would create a new reservoir that would provide a dependable water source for the 27,000 people in the watershed.

Construction began on the dam in May 2006 and was completed in June 2009. It then took more than five months to fill the reservoir.

Local government agencies and community groups worked with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to create the Elkwater Fork Water Supply Dam. Hundreds of locals recently gathered to celebrate the dedication of the dam.

The Elkwater Fork Dam is one of the larger dams in West Virginia and one of the only dams in the state built with compacted concrete. This material has the strength and durability of conventional concrete but at half the cost.

For the dam to acquire a permit under the Clean Water Act of 1972, environmental mitigation was required to compensate for the resources impacted by construction. This work included natural stream restoration on about four and a half miles of the Shavers Fork River to support the brook trout population. A five-year monitoring plan will provide regular evaluations of the habitat improvements.

Other benefits of the project include the creation of 55 local jobs during the three years of construction; and recreational opportunities, including a boat launch area, angler walking trail and an accessible fishing area offered by the new reservoir.

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