During the past month and a half, I have been working and an intern with the Boone Watershed Partnership, Inc. (BWP) a non-profit organization currently in the process of performing restoration projects on two creeks, Sinking Creek and Gap Creek. Sinking Creek is mainly located within Johnson City, while Gap Creek is located mainly in Elizabethton. Both creeks are an essential asset to these two Appalachian communities. Both of these creeks are on the 303(d) list, meaning that they are not capable of sustaining life. Sinking Creek has been put on the list due to E.Coli pollution, while Gap Creek’s main problem is sediment.

Most of the work that I have been doing has been with Project Manager, Sarah Ketron. The main focus of the Sinking Creek project is to inform the community of the pollution in Sinking Creek and inform them on how they can help. On July 9th, Sarah, Gary Barrigar (President of BWP), and I went on a Septic Survey. On this trip, we went door to door asking people if they were connected to the sewer. Part of the grant given to the BWP from the EPA allows the BWP to assist residents in getting connected to sewer, if they are not already. The BWP pays all the costs, except for the monthly tap fee. This is a huge benefit to residents, considering this is something that could cost thousands of dollars. Also, if a resident is currently using a septic tank and is not able or does not wish to connect to sewer, BWP will assist in emptying or repairing the current septic tanks and/or field lines. BWP pays 100% of the costs. Once again, this is a huge incentive for the rural communities, considering the amount of money they would have to pay without BWP assistance. Sarah and I will be conducting another survey this weekend.

Aside from the two restoration projects that are currently up and running, the Boone Watershed Partnership, Inc. also assists in clean ups of other streams and rivers. So far, I have assisted with one clean up. BWP teamed up with Wal-Mart of Elizabethton to help clean up a portion of the Doe River in Elizabethton. We managed to clean out about four truck loads of trash and debris in about three hours. The community living along this portion of this river really appreciates what BWP is doing and even sometimes come out and assist in the clean up. It’s a really good feeling knowing that what you’re doing is helping others, especially in such rural Appalachian communities.  Thank you LoveEverybody  foundation for the ASPIRE Appalachia scholarship support.