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DEP Not Concerned About Kanawha River Discoloration

Reported: Jun. 2, 2014 10:08 PM EDT
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KANAWHA CO., W.Va. (Kera Mashek) Concerns have been pouring in about some discolored water along both the New and Kanawha Rivers.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection says a lot of times, something that can naturally occur in the water makes it look much worse than it really is. Even though they're not too concerned about the situation right now, not everyone living along the river is convinced.

On a beautiful day, a lot of boaters, jet skis, and fisherman dot the banks of the Kanawha River. But in several areas of eastern Kanawha County, people say the water hasn't been looking right for days, leading some to assume the worst..

"You first think that it's sludge from the coal mines or something because never have I seen black like it is," said Bill Croye of Belle.

But the DEP says no coal facility has reported a spill anywhere along the New or Kanawha Rivers where this murky water has been spotted.

When you look at the river as a whole, it does look a little off color. Surprisingly, though, when you take a scoop and pull it out, it really doesn't look bad. As a precaution , the DEP's been keeping close watch on the waters to see what's going on.

"We take every spill report, every concern of every kind from residents seriously. We send out inspectors to investigate," said Kelley Gillenwater, DEP spokesperson.

In this case, the Coast Guard and DEP have determined the widespread cloudy waters are the result of algae, which is fairly common this time of year. This particular type of algae is considered safe and can often disappear as quickly as it shows up.

"Generally algae is non-hazardous to humans and aquatic life as well," said Gillenwater.

But with the memory of the water crisis so fresh, anything that doesn't seem right with the water leaves Bill Croye unconvinced.

"With the water porblem that we had, and then this...you think "Gosh!" I have a boat and jet ski and I certainly would not put my watercrafts in there," Croye said.

The DEP says it will continue to monitor the river conditions and do testing if anything changes, saying it would rather be safe than sorry. Right now though, since the algae isn't dangerous, municipal water plants on the Kanawha aren't shutting off their intakes.



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