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Jacobs Creek Watershed Association honored for projects

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Cami DiBattista | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Jacobs Creek Watershed Association was recently presented the Westmoreland Conservation District’s J. Roy Houston Award for its numerous stream and watershed improvement projects. JCWA members from left are: Mike Barrick, Patty Miller, Joe Kalinowski, Barry Whoric, Andrew Dzurko, Sharyn Kmieciak, Kristina Tarasan, Bill Doney, vice chairman of the Westmoreland Conservation District, and Ron Rohall, chairman of the board for the Westmoreland Conservation District.
Cami DiBattista | For the Mt. Pleasant Journal
Michael Barrick, president of Jacobs Creek Watershed Association, accepts a plaque on behalf of the organization from Ron Rohall, Westmoreland Conservation District chairman; Barry Kukovich, Manager, communications and community affairs of Peoples Natural Gas Company, and Bill Doney, Westmoreland Conservation District vice chairman, at an Award’s Reception held Sept. 12.

The Westmoreland Conservation District awarded Jacobs Creek Watershed Association the J. Roy Houston Conservation Partnership Award for its outstanding conservation efforts.

The award, sponsored by Peoples Natural Gas Co., was presented last week at the Conservation District's Awards reception.

“We're very excited and honored to receive this award,” said JCWA Executive Director Patty Miller, of Bullskin Township. “The Westmoreland Conservation District has helped us with many projects and we value their support.”

JCWA is a nonprofit, grass-roots organization dedicated to the conservation of natural resources, rehabilitation of local creeks and the watershed, environmental education and recreational activities.

JCWA designs projects to contain pollutants and improve the local streams that are tributaries of Jacobs Creek. The organization applies for federal grants to fund the projects and often partners with other environmental organizations.

“The Jacobs Creek Watershed Association really stands out because of their history and what they have been able to accomplish,” said WCD Landscape Artist and Storm Water Technician Kathy Hamilton of New Alexandria. “They've really done a great job over the years.”

The JCWA was formed in 1963 by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to do something about floods that were ravishing the area.

“We looked at the longevity of the organization, the continuous work they've done and the amount of projects to date,” said District Manager/CEO of WCD, Greg Phillips, of Youngwood.

JCWA currently has several watershed improvement projects in various stages of completion.

Recent projects include the stabilization of eroded stream banks in Mt. Pleasant's Willows Park, the designing of rain guard infiltration trenches to control storm water runoff in the borough, and a project that will utilize “porous pavement” — an alternative to asphalt that allows rain water to gradually seep into the ground.

One of its most significant improvements, Jacobs Creek Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Project, has protected area businesses and residents near Acme Dam, Bridgeport Dam, Greenlick Dam and the Scottdale Channel from flooding for many years.

“Jacobs Creeks Flood Prevention Project is one of only a few projects of its kind done in the entire country — their model has been used as an example for other communities,” said Hamilton.

President of JCWA Michael Barrick of Mt. Pleasant, said educating the public is an important way to help keep the watershed clean and free of pollutants.

“There are many low and no-cost ways to help,” said Barrick. “People can make a difference by not littering, conserving water, using a rain barrel to collect storm water runoff, and keeping any exposed dirt covered with mulch or grass clippings.”

Cami DiBattista is a contributing writer.