Indian Creek Watershed Association (ICWA) was founded in 1996, sponsored by the New River Chapter of the Isaak Walton League of America. ICWA has been involved in stream bank restoration projects, supported stream monitoring, conducted a water quality/septic system study in the Union area, and offered summer science camps for middle school students and ongoing public education about water resources in our county.
In 2006, through a careful and inclusive process of community meetings, newspaper articles, mailings and brochures, ICWA was instrumental in encouraging the County Commission to appoint the Monroe County Planning Commission which follows mandates outlined in the 2004 Land Use Planning Law– a crucial step towards innovative land use planning. Because of ICWA’s involvement in the governmental processes, the Planning Commission and the Monroe County Commission have gained a clearer understanding of water protection requirements. In March 2007, ICWA was included as a presenter in the Planning Commission’s initial training. Since then, ICWA members have attended the Planning Commission’s meetings on a regular basis, giving feedback and education where appropriate.
In 2007, ICWA partnered with the Monroe County Schools to run a 6-week summer science camp for middle school students. The camp was made possible through a Project FLOW grant with WV Commission for National & Community Service. Other important partners included Mt. RC & D, Monroe Health Department, Canaan Valley Institute, Southern Conservation District, WV Bureau of Public Health, and the Town of Union
ICWA’s 2007 Water Quality Study, a cooperative effort between ICWA and the Monroe County Health Department, created the start of a database for Monroe County water quality. We informed the Planning Commission about our study, provided sample questionnaires and periodic updates. Two interns completed 149 household surveys (with 28 questions per survey) in the Union Recharge area. In order to obtain valid data, the County Sanitarian collected all water samples and mailed them to the WV State Certified Laboratory. Test results from 60 home water samples showed only 50% to be safe for drinking. ICWA sent well maintenance instructions and water protection information to all households, as well as invited participants and the general public to ICWA meetings. In April 2008, ICWA presented our Water Quality Study Final Report to both the Planning Commission and Monroe County Commission.
The Water Quality Study and the new cooperative working relationship between the health department and ICWA led to the draft of a septic ordinance. This ordinance will be submitted to the County Commission for action once the Planning Commission document is in place.
Our positive work with the Planning Commission also led to a successful agreement to share the work of a VISTA Volunteer for one year. Our VISTA volunteer divides his time between the Planning Commission, Friends of The Second Creek and ICWA in a collaborative effort for the betterment of the whole county.