Elkton Banking On Federal Help

Up To $200K Needed To Stop Dump Leak

Posted: March 3, 2014

Officials are looking for ways to halt the erosion along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River in Elkton, which is encroaching upon the site of an old dump. (Photo by Jason Lenhart)

ELKTON — An old dump is again leaking trash into the South Fork of the Shenandoah River, and it could cost up to $200,000 to fix, according to a local engineer.

The Town of Elkton recently received an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000 to remedy the leak in the community’s old dump off Old Spotswood Trail, Town Manager Kevin Whitfield said. A similar leak occurred about 20 years ago.

The good news is that the town may get some help with the problem. Staff with the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission filed an application with the federal Department of the Interior Jan. 31 for a grant that could provide up to $350,000, Whitfield said.

“We have a bank erosion problem,” he said.

The river between the bridges on U.S. 33 and Old Spotswood Trail has changed course over the years. The old channel is now clogged with debris and the bank along the new channel is eroding and leaching trash into the river. An island is located between the two channels.

The town remedied the problem when it first began in the 1990s but the fix didn’t last, Whitfield said.

Larry Mohn, an engineer from Weyers Cave, recently gave the town some suggestions on how to fix the problem.

Whitfield said the most popular option with Town Council members would involve clearing the old channel and filling in the new one with trees, boulders and dirt.

Trees would be cut 30 feet above their root balls, buried into the riverbank and covered with dirt, Mohn said. The root balls would be anchored into the new channel, interlaced with timber and boulders and covered with dirt.

Two other options involve building a rock barrier, which would divert water away from the bank.

Mohn is confident any of the three options would work.

Whitfield noted that the city has plenty of trees to use for the first option. Most would come from a 300-plus acre timber tract located within town limits. The town would be reimbursed if the timber were used, he said.

All of this could have been avoided if the city had followed Mohn’s advice when an attempt to fix the problem was made in the mid-1990s, he said. Mohn noted that 100 feet of the bank next to the new channel were fixed with the tree-root ball method, but another method that was used on the remaining 650 feet of the riverbank didn’t work. In that method, gravel was used to build up the bank along the new channel and four to six logs were laid over the bank and covered with dirt. That method didn’t work, however, because “every time there’s high water the cobble (gravel) moves,” Mohn said.

A grant was used for that process too, said Mohn, who was working for the Virginia Department of Fish and Game at the time. The town should find out if they are selected for another grant in May or June.

Contact Caleb Soptelean at csoptelean@dnronline.com or call 574-6293.

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