Spring Run is
a unique aquatic resource in the Potomac Highlands region of West
Virginia. Unlike many small headwater streams that tend to go dry,
it is fed by the largest spring in the region, with discharge
typically ranging from 3000-3500 gallons per minute. With a
temperature of ~53 °F at the spring and a pH of ~8, aquatic
conditions are ideal for trout and the aquatic insects they eat.
Spring Run flows about two miles from the spring source to its
confluence with South Mill Creek, which is about four miles from the
South Branch of the Potomac River. Spring Run has no tributaries.
Much of the stream is shallow, and does not provide the complex
habitat that trout need - but that is not the case in a one mile
section in the middle of the Run.
Spring Run is fortunate to have
landowners who work to protect it both for fly fishing catch
and release recreation by written permit, and for future
generations. Since the early 1960’s, landowners and other
interested parties have installed and maintained various
structures to form hiding and feeding habitat for trout on a
one mile long section of Spring Run, and managed it for
catch-and-release only fly fishing. As a result of their
efforts, Spring Run is recognized as one of the best "wild"
rainbow trout fisheries in West Virginia. Friends of
Springs Run’s Wild Trout, was formed in 1996 to restore
stream structure to Spring Run following flooding in 1996. Click
on the trout for a slide show.
2000, fishermen began to notice a decline in the fishery. Emergence
of the mayfly, Ephemerellidae (sulfurs) which once emerged in great numbers
in late spring, largely
disappeared in the late 1990s.
Fly fishermen reported declines in other aquatic insects as well,
such as the small yellow stoneflies often called “yellow sallies.”
The number of large trout (14” and above) had decreased and trout in
the 11-13” range had also declined in abundance. Algae formation is heavy in the
upper reach of the catch-and-release section, much heavier than in
the past, and algae reforms soon after washout by high water.
A timeline of events is provided below.
Spring Run is
rich in nutrients, delivered largely in effluent from the Spring Run
Trout Hatchery (SRH) which is located about one-third mile upstream
from the upper end of the fly fishing section and about one-forth
mile below the spring. (SRH is a rearing facility; trout are not
spawned there). In recent years, however, SRH has been producing
more rainbow and “golden trout” for stocking West Virginia streams,
and it seems that the effluent stream now may be a problem for the
health of Spring Run. WVDEP issued a citation for violation of the
Spring Run Trout Hatchery NPDES permit in January 2004, specifically
for discharging excess biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and total
suspended solids (TSS). WVDNR, which operates SRH, installed an
effluent treatment system at the facility to meet their permit
requirements. It became operational in June 2007.
installation of effluent treatment at SRH provided a unique opportunity to address a
number of important questions. For example, how will Spring Run's
periphyton (attached algae), benthic invertebrates, and rainbow
trout respond to changes in water quality following the hatchery
from the Chesapeake Bay Program, the Spring Run environmental study
began in 2005. Two years of baseline data were collected, followed
by nearly two years of post-treatment
design includes an upstream & downstream component in Spring
Run, and a treatment & control component comparing Spring Run
and nearby Dumpling Run. Both streams are spring fed and have their
origins in the same limestone and sandstone geology. This approach
allowed both within stream and between stream comparisons.
parameters are: field chemistries (pH, temperature, dissolved
oxygen, conductivity); laboratory chemistries (total phosphorus,
various species of nitrogen, TSS, and BOD5); and biological (benthic
macroinvertebrates, periphyton, fish – by WVDNR and fisherman catch
records by section, and stream flow.
Friends of Spring
Run’s Wild Trout, Cacapon Institute (CI), the WV Conservation Agency
(WVCA), WV Department of Agriculture (WVDA), WV Division of Natural
Resources (WVDNR), WV Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP),
and the Freshwater Institute are partnering in this study. This
project is funded primarily by West Virginia Conservation Agency’s
participation through the Chesapeake Bay Program. An associated
erosion reduction project is funded through a Friends of Spring
Run’s Wild Trout 2005 Stream Partners Grant. Additionally, a home
school group is monitoring the lower portion of Spring Run on an
WVDA, WVDEP and
WVDNR are all contributing in-kind services to the project. WVDA is
collecting water samples, taking flow measurements, and performing
field and laboratory water quality analyses. WVDEP is participating
in collections of benthic invertebrate and periphyton and helping to
cover the costs of analysis. WVDNR is performing fish surveys and
Friends of Spring Run’s Wild Trout is providing information on size
and location of trout caught and released by permitted fly
fisherman, and supplied equipment and labor for erosion-sediment
Institute provided guidance to WVDNR on treatment methods for their
effluent and is providing technical guidance for the project. WVCA
is acting as project coordinator. Cacapon Institute has overall
technical oversight for the project, will participate in field work,
and will, in cooperation with partnering organizations, be
responsible for data analysis and production of annual reports.
Note: From early 1960s
until mid-1980s Spring Run was stocked only in lower ¼ mile.
Institute - From the Cacapon to the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay,
we protect rivers and watersheds using science and education.
possible by funding from The Norcross Wildlife Foundation, the
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Virginia Environmental
Endowment, NOAA-BWET, USEPA, The MARPAT Foundation, and our generous