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New Elkwater reservoir could be a gem

February 23, 2013
By Kenneth Cobb , The Inter-Mountain

We are now in the dead of winter, and while this year may not be like last year (one of the mildest winters on record), we still have not had the deep snows and bitter cold like winters of the past.

Just about everyone knows the trout stocking trucks have been moving for nearly two months. A few people have told me some real beauties have been stocked in the Bowden area.

Another person asked me if I have been out fishing yet. About the only thing I could say was no, I have not had time. The hard fact is that I have not done any serious fishing of any kind for at least five years, but I surely would like to.

One person has already told me the water in the new Elkwater Fork Reservoir is super clear. If this is true, it would definitely be one place I would like to try out if the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources stocks it.

The real purpose for this reservoir is water supply. In 1993, there was a serious drought in this area, and the water supply was within 72 hours of depletion. Several steps were taken to prevent future water shortages.

Right now, it is estimated that about 27,000 Randolph County residents will benefit from this improvement in the Upper Tygart Valley Water System. The Huttonsville Public Service District says it has plans to construct a water treatment facility nearby.

The location of this new reservoir is on the Elkwater Fork Road (Randolph County 58) about 1 3/4 miles west of U.S. 219.

The cost was about $32 million dollars that included land acquisition, design, and construction. The dam is 123 feet high, made with roller-compacted concrete. The surface area of the reservoir is 54 acres.

On Aug. 22, 2012, this facility was officially dedicated. Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said the June 29 storm is a perfect example of how much our water supply is a needed resource. Capito went on to say, "When we have a disaster like that so many people lost their water, and I think this will help provide water and more plentiful and accessible, it's great planning and I think that's what we need to do in this country."

This past week, I talked with fish biologists at the Elkins Operations Center and French Creek. Both have told me there are no current plans for stocking this reservoir because of the accessibility problem.

The road leading into the tailwaters is nearly impassable for a stock truck.

At the same time, when fish are stocked, they are put in the water for people to catch. Several people have told me the foot path to the top of the dam is a very long and steep climb, which might be discouraging to people with disabilities. The fish biologists do agree with me that it is a shame to have such a great body of water and not be able to put game fish in it.

The biologists say this facility could be stocked with not only trout, but various forms of bass, bluegill, and walleye. I have often said walleye is the best tasting game fish in the state.

Another factor to take into consideration is the land disturbance that went on during construction of the dam.

Could trout still live in this water that was once a native brook trout stream? This is something our brain children who work for the DNR will have to figure out.

Lastly, let's think of the economy boom for the rural communities of Huttonsville, Mingo, Monterville and Valley Head this new facility has to offer. This new reservoir has the potential to be a real treasure.



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