An Epic Ecological Reversal for a Riverbed and Watershed

The Cheat River’s Muddy Creek tributary in West Virginia is a lot cleaner today, thanks to a successful water project supported by SWN and led by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP). Leaders from both organizations joined the Governor of West Virginia Jim Justice, members of the EPA, the non-profit Friends of the Cheat and others to celebrate completion of a new T&T water treatment facility. On Friday, May 3, 2019, the official ribbon cutting followed speeches given by Bill Way, Governor Jim Justice and key leaders in the multi-year investment project.

The T&T water treatment facility connects to a pipeline collection system, backed by SWN. The site began full operations nearly a year ago to the day. Once treated, the purified, pH-balanced water flows back into the Cheat River, diluting residual pollutants and restoring life to the entire watershed. Small brown trout have been spotted in the creek, and aquatic life is resurging.

Acid mine drainage (AMDs) damaged Muddy Creek over time, polluting its flow into the Cheat River. While the mining industry had traditionally flourished across West Virginia, by the mid-1990s, two serious blowouts from abandoned coal mines near the town of Albright caused the severe AMD contamination in Muddy Creek. Soon, fish and aquatic life died off and the creekbed took on a yellow-orange tarnish that spread wherever the contaminated water flowed.

Though SWN did not create the problem, we became sole private-industry partner in the clean-up effort. We signed onto this trailblazing project with the WV DEP, which the EPA made possible by a special permitting arrangement. SWN is proud to have helped West Virginia achieve this epic ecological turnaround. The project adds another batch of fresh clean water to over nine billion gallons that SWN has already replenished near its operations since 2014.

Pictured above, cutting ribbon, left to right: David McCoy, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WV DEP); Roger Calhoun, U.S. Office of Surface Mining; Kate McManus, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Scott Mandirola; WV DEP; Bill Way, Chief Executive Officer & President, SWN; Jim Justice, Governor, West Virginia; Amanda Pitzer, Friends of the Cheat; Mike Sheehan, Division of Land Restoration, WV DEP; Paul Ziemkiewicz, Water Research Institute at West Virginia University; Larry Riggleman, WV DEP.

Media coverage highlights:

SWN Community Relations Manager Amy Dobkin was quoted in one broadcast:

“And the collection system serves multiple sources of acid mine drainage within the watershed. The system collects the AMD, brings it to the central facility for treatment. Following the treatment the clean freshwater is returned back to Muddy Creek.”

SWN Senior Staff Water Engineer, Rowlan Greaves was quoted in an online news story:

“There’s a generation that has grown up in that area that hasn’t seen anything but the orange stain and the impaired water and we’re seeing results right way… It’s the collection and conveyance system that collects that acid mine drainage from multiple points across the watershed and conveys that to that central treatment system and then clean water is returned back to the environment right there at Muddy Creek.”

Additional Broadcast

  • WVFX (FOX – Clarksburg, WV) 6:00pm, rebroadcast at 11:00pm


  • Signs of life are showing themselves along a previously polluted Preston County creek – WV Metro News
  • Community celebrates completion of Cheat River Muddy Creek Watershed Restoration Project – WBOY
  • Muddy Creek Watershed Restoration Project showing success – WDTV
  • Friends celebrate cleanup of Cheat – Dominion Post
  • Muddy Creek restoration project ribbon-cutting held – Exponent Telegram


Notable posts include Twitter and Facebook posts from Gov. Jim Justice, WBOY and FrackCheckWV along with shares of SWN posts.