PRESTON COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV)-- The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) celebrated the Muddy Creek Watershed Restoration Project Friday.
The project has already brought great success to the 3.4 miles of Muddy Creek impacted by acid mine drainage.
"Muddy Creek was the biggest source of acid mine drainage for the whole Cheat. It was half of all of the acid load that went into the Cheat River and was responsible for most of the problem," said Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, Director of the WV Water Research Institute.
Due to mine blowouts in the 90's, the river hadn't seen life. The state-of-the-art treatment system, at the T&T Treatment Facility, collects and treats 6 million gallons of acid mine drainage per day.
"This river was completely orange, completely dead. It had a pH of about three right here," said Ziemkiewicz.
5News: "What's a safe pH level for life in the water?
"Anywhere between 5 1/2 and 7 or 8."
Southwestern Energy contributed to the construction of a pipeline to transport the acid mine drainage loads from Martin Creek to the facility.
This marks the first watershed-based National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit ever issued in the country.
"Since they have the fresh site now, right on the corner of where Muddy Creek dumps into the Cheat it's really visible to the public and it's really important to clean up," said resident Peggy Pings.
Governor Justice said he knows the state has a problem with Acid Mine Drainage, but people are finding ways to combat it. Now, for the first time in years the creek has been restored to a natural state.
"Any kind of clean up on the Cheat is a good thing, they've been working forever," said Pings.
Now, folks are finding their way back to recreational activities on the river.
"Having it orange stained with acid mine drainage really degraded what should've been a big asset," said Ziemkiewicz.
Freshwater trout and early signs of aquatic life are beginning to emerge.