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Drinking water spring in New River Gorge closed

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. -- A spring in the New River Gorge National River that has been used as a home drinking water source for decades is being closed by the National Park Service, after tests showed its water contains high levels of arsenic, mercury and coliform bacteria.

Although Ajax Spring, located along Fayette Station Road, had previously been posted as a non-potable water source, NPS officials were concerned that local residents were continuing to the spring for household use.

"Because we are aware the public uses the spring, we were required to test it during a recent mandatory audit," said park Superintendent Trish Kicklighter. "When the test results were reviewed by the National Park Service Public Health Inspector, he recommended closing the spring."

The presence of turbidity and bacteria in the water indicate that surface water is leaking through rock fissures and cracks contaminating the spring, which is fed by water draining from the long-abandoned Ajax Mine.

A concrete cistern and pipe used to access the spring were installed before the New River Gorge National River was established. After the site became a part of the park in 1988, the National Park Service kept the spring open to accommodate area residents who used it to obtain household drinking water.

"However, with the recent test results, we cannot in good conscience keep the spring operational," Kicklighter said, adding that a Fayette County sanitarian has determined that water from the spring fails to meet minimum state standards.

For questions and concerns over the spring's closure, call Robin Snyder at 304-640-0724.



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