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Star City in Monongalia County, West Virginia — The American South (Appalachia)
 

Star City Water Quality

1951 - Present

 
 
Star City Water Quality Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, June 14, 2022
1. Star City Water Quality Marker
Inscription.  
Something in the Water
In the 1800s deep and surface coal mines operated unregulated. By the 1960s, the Monongahela River had become the most polluted major river system in the U.S. due to acid mine drainage. Many tributaries flowing into the river were orange from iron hydroxide found in mine byproducts which discolored the water and stained the rocks. Residents mistakenly called these streams "sulfur creeks" although dissolved sulfur does not color water.

Paying the Price
The main impact of acid mine drainage on water quality is increased acidity. It can reduce the pH to as low as 2 (a pH of 6-8 is needed to sustain most aquatic life). The presence of aquatic life, especially fish and some mussels, provides the best indicator of good water quality. Fishery surveys by state and federal agencies in 1968 found only one fish species, an acid-tolerant bullhead catfish.

Life Returns to the River
Before 1972, the average pH was below 6, but now averages above 7. It began increasing dramatically after West Virginia surface mining regulations were enacted in 1971, along with the
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Federal Clean Water Act of 1972. In 1973, 8,000 fish were collected, representing 13 species, a clear sign of healthier water.

On Your Marks!
The first organized bass tournaments took place on the Upper Mon River in 1977, when anglers noted the increasing bass populations. Since then, the number of tournaments has varied from 10 to 60 per year.

The River's Bounty
Today, there are at least 76 fish species present and in significantly higher numbers. Notably, bullheads are now scarce and channel catfish are very abundant, along with largemouth and smallmouth bass, flathead catfish, muskies, sauger, walleyes, and white bass.

[Captions:]
This Graph Shows the Increase in Fish Caught Per Acre by Poundage From 1973 to 2003
(Fish Caught in 2003 Were Smaller Than Previous Years Resulting in a Decrease in Poundage)
Source: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

This Graph Shows the Rise and Stabilization in pH and the Rise in Alkalinity in the Monongahela River From 1965 to 1989
(1972 Marks the Beginning of the Recovering Fish Population)
Source: West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

This Graph Shows the Increase in the Diversity of Fish Species at the Morgantown Lock on the Monongahela River From 1973 to 2003
Source: West Virginia Division of Natural
Star City Water Quality Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Bradley Owen, June 15, 2022
2. Star City Water Quality Marker
Resources

A Volunteer Gives a Sarcastic Thumbs-up at the Richard Mine Discharge Site Along Deckers Creek Near Morgantown (ca. 2005)
Source: Friends of Deckers Creek

A Bass Tournament Held on the Monongahela River Near Morgantown (2012)
Source: Frank Jernejcic

Admiring an Angler's Flathead Catfish on the Monongahela River (2016)
This Species is One of the Slowest Growing in the Country.
Source: Kapatan Fishing

 
Erected 2021 by West Virginia Humanities Council, Upper Monongahela River Association and Laick Design. (Marker Number 9.)
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AnimalsEnvironmentNatural ResourcesWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1968.
 
Location. 39° 39.606′ N, 79° 59.475′ W. Marker is in Star City, West Virginia, in Monongalia County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Frontier Street and University Avenue, on the left when traveling north. Marker is located in Edith Barill Riverfront Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 398 Leeway St, Morgantown WV 26505, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Socialism in Star City (within shouting distance of this marker); The B & O Railroad (within shouting distance of this marker); Locks and Dams
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(within shouting distance of this marker); Honor Roll Star City, W.Va. (within shouting distance of this marker); John F. Kennedy Memorial Park (within shouting distance of this marker); Star City Veterans Monument (within shouting distance of this marker); Immigrants in Star City (within shouting distance of this marker); Star City Bridge (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Star City.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 3, 2022. It was originally submitted on July 3, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. This page has been viewed 100 times since then and 11 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 3, 2022, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 14, 2024