Downstream Strategies offers environmental consulting services that combine sound interdisciplinary skills with a core belief in the importance of protecting the environment and linking economic development with natural resource stewardship.


  Click To View11.0mb Capturing the Sun’s Rays: An Economic Impact Assessment of Solar Development in Southwest Virginia (2017)

In Southwest Virginia, a group of nonprofit and community action agencies, colleges, state agencies, planning district commissions, and other interested citizens and businesses are seeking to develop a solar energy industry cluster in the seven coalfield counties of Southwest Virginia. Development of some or all aspects of the solar industry value–chain—from component manufacturing and sales to engineering and installation—will not only grow the local economy, but also provide new businesses with abundant, redundant, and renewable energy. Understanding this potential economic boon provides lawmakers and energy industry officials in the region a powerful leverage point for scaling up a diverse renewable energy sector.

  Click To View15.5mb In Everyone’s Backyard: Assessing Proximity of Fracking to Communities At-Risk in West Virginia’s Marcellus Shale (2017)

In the past decade, natural gas drilling and extraction from the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia has grown rapidly. In this study, we explore whether gas production has become more common near places essential for everyday life in West Virginia, increasing the potential for human exposure to contaminants associated with drilling and natural gas extraction. We also characterize the toxicity of a set of chemicals used to frack wells near sensitive populations to better understand the potential for harmful exposures. This report was produced in partnership with SkyTruth and San Francisco State University.

  Click To View1.7mb Source Water Protection Plan Implementation (2017)

This guide provides information to utilities and watershed groups about Source Water Protection Plans and Watershed based Plans, and encourages potential collaborations between these entities to achieve similar goals in areas where there is overlap between the two plans. It also provides approaches and recommendations for public involvement in the implementation of both types of plans. Case studies of watersheds with both Source Water Protection Plans and Watershed based Plans are included to highlight similarities and opportunities for collaboration.

  Click To View15.9mb Citizens' Guide to Fracking Permits in West Virginia (2017)

In recent years, natural gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") within the Marcellus Shale has been expanding in West Virginia. Natural gas extraction and associated infrastructure impacts the environment and people living in close proximity. Before construction can occur, companies must apply for various permits designed to protect the environment. This guide describes five permits required by the State of West Virginia and explains opportunities for citizens to get involved during the permitting process. Downstream Strategies and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition presented a webinar on this guide on April 12, 2017. A recording of the webinar is available here.

  Click To View5.3mb Prospects for Large-scale Solar on Degraded Land in West Virginia (2017)

As solar markets have exploded and the new low-carbon economy has improved its footing, West Virginia’s economy has crumbled. West Virginia’s miners and the once-prosperous companies that employ them have fallen on hard times. West Virginia’s small towns and rural communities are dotted with degraded lands, including former mines, hazardous waste sites, landfills, Superfund sites, and Brownfield sites. This report examines the opportunities for large-scale solar development on these sites. The authors explore the environmental and economic impacts of this type of development in the Mountain State.

  Click To View2.9mb The Importance of Safe Drinking Water for Protecting Women's And Children's Health (2016)

While polluted drinking water can harm any person, pregnant women and babies are particularly sensitive to certain pollutants. Category A, one portion of West Virginia's water quality standards, protects surface waters from harmful levels of more than 80 pollutants, including metals, organic compounds, and other toxic pollutants. Category A is the backbone for Clean Water Act protections for the state's rivers, streams, and reservoirs that serve as drinking water sources. This report explains the importance of Category A for protecting women's reproductive health.

  Click To View4.9mb Lake Superior Brook Trout Conservation and Prioritization Report (2016)

The Ashland, Wisconsin office of the United State Fish and Wildlife Service contracted Downstream Strategies to compile and analyze data and to facilitate and collaborate in conservation planning for brook trout within the Lake Superior Basin. This effort included creating predictive habitat models, assessing vulnerability and resiliency to climate change, analyzing barriers to fish movement, and compiling other available data relevant to brook trout. The full suite of data collected and created was used to create a portfolio of conservation scenarios that identified high priority subwatersheds that will serve as the basis for brook trout conservation planning within the entire Lake Superior Basin.

  Click To View30.9mb Healing Our Land, Growing Our Future: Innovative Mine Reclamation in Southwest Virginia (2016)

In early 2016, Downstream Strategies worked with Appalachian Voices to profile 14 candidate projects for RECLAIM Act funding in Southwest Virginia. The RECLAIM Act is focused on reclaiming abandoned mine lands to put them back into productive use, and it offers a vehicle by which communities and entrepreneurs can work to revitalize the economy of the Appalachian region. We worked closely with community members and local officials to identify sites and projects that stand to benefit from these monies and together we compiled information, facilitated connections between key players, and provided support, all in the name of pushing forward marquee economic development projects. This report describes these projects in detail and lays the foundation for ground-up economic redevelopment by the residents of Southwest Virginia.

  Click To View1.1mb Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions through the Sustainable Morgantown Initiative (2016)

From 2012 to 2016, Downstream Strategies worked with the City of Morgantown, the Morgantown Municipal Green Team, and other partners to complete a three-phase greenhouse gas reduction project. The third phase of this project, the Sustainable Morgantown Initiative, established four linked programs to promote investments in energy efficiency and renewables that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative has produced tangible results in Morgantown and beyond.

  Click To View11.8mb Guidance for Monitoring Effects of Gas Pipeline Development on Surface Water and Groundwater Supplies (2016)

This report provides information concerning risks, potential impacts, and other water supply issues related to pipeline development. It details methods for establishing baseline information on water quantity and quality, long-term monitoring to detect change, collection of data that will be needed to hold pipeline developers responsible for harm to water supplies, as well as laboratories and consultants that can conduct monitoring and perform analyses. The Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance commissioned this report for landowners and water providers concerned about the potential impacts of pipeline development on water supplies.

  Click To View5.4mb Economic and Revitalization Plan (2016)

Downstream Strategies, The Mills Group, and Terrell Ellis and Associates were hired by the Town of Granstville, Maryland to complete an economic and revitalization plan. Grantsville is poised for growth. The town boasts numerous national and state historic places, proximity to roadways, a discovery center, a state park, new art district designation, and heritage-based events, all of which make up a wealth of assets for creating an attractive and legible landscape for visitors and residents alike. Our planning process included a synthesis of existing plans and efforts and used this information to lead several stakeholder meetings and design charrettes with town stakeholders. These meetings resulted in specific project designs for streetscaping projects, commercial real estate development design options and guidelines, a way-finding plan, and an economic development strategy and implementation plan.

  Click To View1.5mb Expanding Economic Opportunities for West Virginia under the Clean Power Plan (2016)

EPA released its final rule to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants in late 2015. This analysis presents two compliance scenarios and policy recommendations that illustrate how an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy would help West Virginia comply with the Clean Power Plan while advancing economic development goals through an expanded energy economy. This report is part of a Center for Energy & Sustainable Development initiative to develop sustainable solutions for the economic, energy, and climate challenges facing West Virginia and is supported through a grant from the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation.

  Click To View870kb All of Our Eggs in One Basket? An Update on the Decline of Central Appalachian Coal and Increasing Budget Woes in West Virginia (2016)

For many years, both private and government forecasts have predicted sharp declines in Central Appalachian and West Virginia coal production. In recent years, these declines have occurred, largely as predicted, and southern West Virginia has been hit particularly hard. Headlines tell stories of miners losing their jobs, mines closing, companies filing for bankruptcy, and decreases in severance tax revenues—all of which have significant impacts on local economies. At the state level, Governor Tomblin announced a 4% across-the-board budget cut in October 2015, due primarily to declines in coal severance tax revenues. In this white paper, we present five key charts that update the story of the decline of Central Appalachian coal, with a particular focus on West Virginia.

  Click To View2.7mb Estuarine Fish Habitat Assessment: A General Framework and Winter Flounder Pilot Studies (2015)

The North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative contracted Downstream Strategies to perform aquatic habitat assessments for the Northeast United States. Part of this project included creating predictive models for estuarine areas. Winter flounder were selected as the species to be modeled for this pilot study, beginning with a model of Narragansett Bay. After learning from that effort, a separate predictive habitat model for winter flounder was performed on Long Island Sound. This document describes the process used to create a modeling framework for these assessments, details of the habitat assessments, and a discussion of the lessons learned that may aid future similar efforts. The data and modeling results from this assessment will be incorporated into a web-based decision support tool. This tool will enable users to visualize and download data and model outputs and establish conservation priorities based on user-defined ranking criteria.

  Click To View3.7mb Capturing Resource Wealth to Invest in the Future: Possible Structures and Potential Benefits of an Illinois Coal Severance Tax (2015)

This document analyzes the potential uses and benefits of a new coal severance tax in Illinois. Information and lessons taken from other states are used to project the amount of revenue that could be generated for Illinois from a coal severance tax and to model how the resulting revenues might be distributed. We propose a tax model for Illinois that would maximize benefits for both state and local governments while also financing a permanent mineral trust fund. This report was produced in partnership with the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

  Click To View6.2mb Hub Connectivity Feasibility Assessment (2015)

West Virginia has made great strides in redeveloping the local food economy over the past decade. Locally grown food is now available in most counties and there are over 25 food hub and aggregation projects devoted to connecting West Virginia products to consumers. A question that remains is how to support partnerships within the existing food infrastructure? What are the opportunities in creating potential consortia and efficiencies in local food distribution? This study builds on existing research and a distributor survey—conducted in summer of 2015—to provide an overview of inter-food-hub and distributor relationships. The results identify communities in West Virginia that show high probability for success in ongoing and future local food development efforts and includes a case study of how a new strategy for local food consortia could work.

  Click To View22.0mb Chesapeake Bay Brook Trout Assessment: Using Decision Support Tools to Develop Priorities (2015)

This document summarizes an assessment of brook trout habitat for the Chesapeake Bay watershed, including the quantification of likelihood of occurrence, stress and natural quality indices, and vulnerability under projected future climate scenarios. Additionally, a case study is presented on how to potentially utilize these data to direct restoration and ⁄ or protection activities.

  Click To View6.3mb Chesapeake Bay Watershed Brook Trout Habitat and Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (2015)

Recently, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement established a management outcome focused on restoring and sustaining naturally reproducing brook trout populations in the Chesapeake Bay’s headwater streams. Partners and stakeholders desired a product which would ultimately assist and guide the achievement of the conservation priorities in the Chesapeake Bay’s Brook Trout Management Strategy. Presented in this report are the details of a statistically-valid predictive model funded by the North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative that captured underlying cause and effect relationship between habitat characteristics and brook trout within this watershed, which met the needs outlined above.

  Click To View19.6mb Conservation Easements as a Strategy for Drinking Water Protection, Lewisburg, West Virginia (2015)

Downstream Strategies worked with the West Virginia Land Trust to identify parcels of land that would be suitable for conservation easements that would contribute to protection of Lewisburg, WV’s drinking water source. This report outlines the process undertaken to prioritize parcels of land that have important natural qualities and those that have potential to contribute contaminants to the drinking water source, the Greenbrier River.

  Click To View3.5mb The Atlantic Coast Pipeline in West Virginia: Opportunities for Public Engagement regarding Erosion and Sedimentation (2015)

The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline route begins in Harrison County and crosses Lewis, Upshur, Randolph, and Pocahontas counties before entering Virginia. In West Virginia, it crosses numerous streams, which range from small headwaters streams to larger rivers with widths of up to 90 feet. Pipeline construction, especially in mountainous areas, can accelerate erosion and cause sedimentation of streams. This sedimentation can impact other rivers downstream from those directly crossed by the pipeline, including Tier 3 streams that receive special protections under West Virginia’s antidegradation implementation procedures. This report provides suggestions for public participation in the pipeline permitting processes.

  Click To View19.8mb Mountain Maryland Energy Advisory Committee Final Report (2015)

This final report documents the work completed by the Mountain Maryland Energy Advisory Committee, a county-sponsored work group that met between December 2013 and May 2015. The committee was established to advise the Board of County Commissioners of Garrett County and Allegany County, Maryland on local and state policies, regulations, programs, and legislation to help guide energy planning, with the goal of maximizing likely positive effects and minimizing potentially negative consequences of energy development.

  Click To View1.3mb Opportunities for Reducing Commercial and Residential Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Morgantown, West Virginia (2015)

This report identifies promising energy-saving projects that Morgantown business owners and homeowners can implement to save money while reducing GHG emissions and other associated pollution. This is the second of a three-phase project that aims to reduce GHG emissions in Morgantown. The Phase 1 baseline GHG emissions inventory was completed in 2014, and Phase 3, which focuses on implementation, will be completed in 2016.

  Click To View1.8mb The Clean Power Plan and West Virginia: Compliance Options and New Economic Opportunities (2015)

EPA plans to release its final rule to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal-fired power plants in summer 2015. This analysis presents several compliance scenarios and policy recommendations that illustrate how an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy would help West Virginia comply with the Clean Power Plan while advancing economic development goals through an expanded energy economy. This report is part of a Center for Energy & Sustainable Development initiative to develop sustainable solutions for the economic, energy, and climate challenges facing West Virginia and is supported through a grant from the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation.

  Click To View5.7mb Charting Restoration: Five Years after Deepwater Horizon (2015)

This report analyzes existing strategic restoration plans from multiple federal, state and local agencies, nonprofit organizations, and coalitions to identify and map restoration priorities across the Gulf of Mexico. The report then compares the findings to the BP-related money that has been distributed to date. For more information, please see the Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico webpage.

  Click To View11.3mb West Virginia Food Hub Feasibility Assessment (2015)

A Food Hub is a centrally located entity that facilitates the aggregation, production, storage, and marketing of local food. This assessment, produced in partnership with the New Appalachian Farm and Research Center, provides a snapshot of the state’s current and potential local fruit and vegetable production. It gives an in-depth look at the top three regions in the state for fruit and vegetable production based on survey data and provides a food hub feasibility analysis. It also includes a directory of producers interested in expanding and selling their products. This report is intended to assist stakeholders, funders, businesses, policy makers, aggregation efforts, and other organizations in and outside of West Virginia in deciding where to focus resources to strengthen the West Virginia local food economy.

  Click To View11.3mb Aboveground Storage Tanks in West Virginia: A Snapshot, including Addendum: Impacts of HB 2574 and SB 423 on the number of tanks regulated by the Aboveground Storage Tank Act (2015)

The West Virginia Legislature enacted Senate Bill 373 in response to the January 9, 2014 Freedom Industries chemical leak. This bill included numerous provisions to help prevent contamination of drinking water and to better plan for responses, should contamination occur. Among these provisions was the Aboveground Storage Tank Act. This report provides an analysis of the more than 47,000 tanks registered by mid-December. An addendum analyzes the impacts of HB 2574 and SB 423 on the number of tanks regulated by the Act.

  Click To View7.7mb Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership (2015)

This report details the predictive fish habitat assessment models created for brook trout, coldwater species, lithophillic species, walleye, and large river species for the Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership (GLBFHP).

  Click To View4.9mb Tucker County, West Virginia Small Business and Housing Needs Assessment (2014)

DS performed a housing and small business needs assessment for Tucker County, focusing on the primary population centers. The assessment combined a research-based characterization with a participatory process, allowing stakeholders to gain an understanding of present demand and project future growth in the region, while ensuring project outputs were locally relevant and informative. The project employed a phased approach to address each of the goals and objectives identified by the stakeholders. Phase-1 summarized existing data, Phase-2 expanded upon the collected data with a stakeholder survey, and an econometric model was created in Phase-3.

  Click To View4.3mb Ohio River Basin Watershed Models (2014)

This report details the predictive models created for Macroinvertebrate Bioassessment Index (MBI) within the Licking River (Kentucky) watershed and the Fish Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) within the Muskingum River (Ohio) watershed.

  Click To View722kb Carbon Dioxide Emission Reduction Opportunities for the West Virginia Power Sector: Discussion Paper (2014)

This discussion paper reviews EPA’s proposed rules to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants and presents policy recommendations on steps West Virginia could take to comply with these rules while also capturing the economic, social, and environmental benefits of expanding the state’s energy economy. This paper is part of a Center for Energy & Sustainable Development initiative to develop sustainable solutions for the economic, energy, and climate challenges facing West Virginia. The initiative is supported through a grant from the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation.

  Click To View1.0mb Comments on Proposed Changes to 33CSR1, Solid Waste Management Rule, Pertaining to the Management of Drilling Wastes in West Virginia Municipal Solid Waste Landfills (2014)

This report has been prepared at the request of the Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority to assist in its preparation for a public hearing regarding proposed changes to the West Virginia Solid Waste Management Rule. The proposed changes address an increasing waste stream generated during drilling at Marcellus Shale gas wells.

  Click To View3.0mb Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory for Morgantown, West Virginia (2014)

This report calculates a community-wide 2012 baseline inventory of greenhouse gas emissions for the city of Morgantown, West Virginia, including West Virginia University. This inventory lays the foundation for Phase 2, in which promising commercial and residential energy-saving projects are identified, and Phase 3, in which they are implemented.

  West Virginia Food Mapper (2014)

The West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition is hosting the West Virginia Food Mapper application. This application maps and provides detailed information about various local food outlets, meat processors, and displays key statewide agricultural information. The web-mapper will allow West Virginia consumers and local-food businesses to easily connect and show where the West Virginia agricultural “Hot Spots” are located. Each location is a clickable feature that provides additional information, such as products offered, summary of services, location, contact information, and operating hours.

  Click To View5.4mb Potential Significant Contaminant Sources above West Virginia American Water’s Charleston Intake: A Preliminary Assessment (2014)

This report provides a preliminary assessment of sites that, if improperly managed, could contaminate West Virginia American Water’s drinking water intake on the Elk River in Charleston. It was presented to legislators as they completed work on a bill to prevent future spills and to upgrade the protection of public water intakes across the state. It will also be useful as public utilities, local governments, and citizens across West Virginia engage in new source water protection efforts. This report was produced in partnership with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.

  Click To View457kb Letter from Downstream Strategies to Legislative Leaders Regarding Initial Results of In-home Water Testing (2014)

On February 7, Evan Hansen and Marc Glass sent a letter to legislative leaders summarizing initial results from in-home testing conducted by Downstream Strategies in the area affected by the Freedom Industries spill. 4-MCHM was detected in four of 10 samples of water distributed by West Virginia American Water to homes and businesses after flushing according to recommended procedures and after purging by Downstream Strategies personnel. These detections are not indicative of any potential pollution that may remain in plumbing systems (including, for example, hot water tanks).

  Click To View1.4mb The Freedom Industries Spill: Lessons Learned and Needed Reforms (2014)

On January 21, Evan Hansen presented recommendations from this report to a joint House Judiciary/Health Committee Informational Meeting. On January 22, he presented an updated presentation to the Joint Water Resources Commission.

  Click To View6.8mb The Freedom Industries Spill: Lessons Learned and Needed Reforms (2014)

On January 9, 2014, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection received an odor complaint for the Freedom Industries Etowah River Terminal site—a bulk storage distribution center holding thousands of gallons of chemicals along the Elk River, approximately 1.5 miles above the drinking water intake for West Virginia American Water's treatment plant. West Virginia American Water supplies drinking water to approximately 300,000 people in a nine-county area, including Charleston. MCHM and other chemicals are stored at the Freedom Industries site. This report outlines specific policy recommendations necessary to protect drinking water sources and prevent future chemical spills. It focuses on key issues, information gaps, and policy remedies as they relate to three environmental laws most relevant to the chemical spill, including the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. This report was produced in partnership with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.

  Click To View1.2mb Using Solar PV to Create Economic Opportunity and Energy Diversity in West Virginia: Five Policy Recommendations (2014)

Solar energy has the potential to be part of a bright economic future of West Virginia—a future built on a thriving and just economy rooted in the Mountaineer spirit of self-sufficiency. This report explains the benefits of solar energy and provides an overview of state policies needed to expand its deployment in West Virginia. This report was produced in partnership with The Mountain Institute’s Appalachia Program.

  Click To View2.1mb Water Resource Reporting and Water Footprint from Marcellus Shale Development in West Virginia and Pennsylvania (2013)

In recent years, West Virginia and Pennsylvania have improved their regulation and oversight of water use and pollution from Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction. Both states now require recordkeeping and public reporting of key water quality and quantity information. In this report, we use these databases to document water withdrawals, fluid injections, and waste recovery and disposal, including the transport of waste to neighboring states. We also apply the concept of life cycle analysis to calculate the water footprint of the extraction phase of natural gas from Marcellus Shale. In addition, we provide recommendations for improving data collection and reporting requirements to appropriately inform future management decisions by policy makers, regulators, and operators. This report was written in partnership with Dustin Mulvaney at San Jose State University on behalf of Earthworks and was funded by a Network Innovation Grant from the Robert & Patricia Switzer Foundation. Our archived webinar presents key results and recommendations.

  Click To View5.2mb Case Study: Analysis of Scale on Boosted Regression Tree Fish Habitat Models (2013)

This report summarizes a case study conducted to analyze the implications of predictive modeling at various scales. It builds off of the Fish Habitat Partnership model results from the Ohio River Basin and Regional Assessments. We found that models created for smaller geographic areas improve predictive power of models and ensure that relationships derived from the model are applicable to the focal area, rather than being influenced by larger, regional factors.

  Click To View2.9mb Great Plains Fish Habitat Partnership Fish Modeling Results (2013)

Downstream Strategies was contracted by the Great Plains Fish Habitat Partnership funded through the Plains and Prairie Pothole Landscape Conservation Cooperative, to create a spatially explicit data analysis and modeling system for assessing fish habitat condition across the northern Great Plains. This report summarizes the data, methods, and results of the models created for five guilds of fish found across the Great Plains: darter guild, madtom guild, northern headwater guild, southern headwater guild, and turbid river guild. Generally, the results of this project are intended to enable a unique, broad, and spatially explicit understanding of the links between natural habitat conditions, human influences on aquatic habitats, and aquatic health.

  Click To View2.9mb Midwest Regional Fish Habitat Assessment (2013)

Downstream Strategies was contracted by the Midwest Fish Habitat Partnership to create a spatially explicit data analysis and modeling system for assessing fish habitat condition across the Midwest based on a range of metrics. This report summarizes the data, methods, and results of the three predictive models created for coldwater, coolwater, and warmwater fish assemblages, as well as the climate change vulnerability of each response. Generally, the results of this project are intended to enable a unique, broad, and spatially explicit understanding of the links between natural habitat conditions, human influences on aquatic habitats, and aquatic health.

  Click To View2.9mb Ronceverte Eco-Community Plan (2013)

A multi-phased sustainable planning initiative may transform Ronceverte, West Virginia into one of the greenest small towns in rural Appalachia. Downstream Strategies and stakeholders at the Ronceverte Development Corporation's (RDC) Main Street program developed the Ronceverte Eco-Community Plan to enhance local economic growth and environmental sustainability. Stakeholders established a framework for the plan based on three primary components—water, energy, and community—with a particular focus on stormwater management, energy efficiency, renewable energy development, and enhancing quality of life for residents.

  Click To View1.8mb Proposed Birthplace of Rivers National Monument: The Economic Impacts of Designation (2013)

This report explores the economic impacts of national monument designation in east central West Virginia. National monument designation is a special status bestowed upon federal lands possessing unique natural, cultural, or historic features. The proposed Birthplace of Rivers National Monument could support over 140 jobs and bring approximately $5.2 million in economic activity to the region. Click here to view a project brochure for the Birthplace of Rivers initiative.

  Click To View2.2mb Environmental Benefits to the Chesapeake Bay of a Poultry Litter Baling Facility in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia (2013)

A poultry litter baling facility can help reduce West Virginia’s pollutant discharges to the Chesapeake. By creating compost, which is more stable and consistent than fresh litter, and exporting the compost from the watershed, nutrient loads delivered to the Bay are reduced. Among poultry growers, private foundations, and others, there is an interest in creating a self-sustaining business that creates and sells a value-added product like compost to help reduce nutrient loads in the Bay watershed. This study investigates how to quantify the environmental benefits of a poultry litter baling facility.

  Click To View2.9mb Overcoming the Market Barriers to Organic Production in West Virginia (2013)

There are very few certified organic farms in West Virginia. Based on surveys and interviews of West Virginia farmers, combined with economic, policy, and GIS analyses, this report identifies barriers and proposes recommendations for the expansion of organic agriculture across the state. This research was conducted in collaboration with the Indiana University School of Public Health.

  Click To View2.5mb The Impact of Coal on the Illinois State Budget, FY2011 (2013)

This report analyzes the fiscal impact of the coal industry on the Illinois state budget for Fiscal Year 2011 and finds that the overall impact amounted to a net cost for Illinois and its taxpayers. Key recommendations include implementing a state severance tax on coal, creating a permanent mineral trust fund, and conducting a detailed analysis of the full costs and benefits of grant programs supporting coal-related projects. The report was commissioned by the Sierra Club, Prairie Rivers Network, Faith in Place, and Eco-Justice Collaborative.

  Click To View6.8mb The Continuing Decline in Demand for Central Appalachian Coal: Market and Regulatory Influences (2013)

The Central Appalachian coal industry has experienced a sharp decline in recent years, and the region faces significant challenges that are expected to result in an even greater decline in the coming years. This report provides a comprehensive analysis of the numerous market and regulatory influences that are having an impact on demand for Central Appalachian coal and identifies which of the region's coal-producing counties are most vulnerable. Key findings can be downloaded here.

  Click To View2.9mb Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership (2012)

Downstream Strategies was contracted by the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies through the Sportfish Restoration Program to create a spatially explicit data analysis and modeling system for assessing fish habitat condition within the Great Lakes Basin. This report summarizes the data, methods, and results of the models created for brook trout, walleye, coldwater species, large river species, and lithophillic species. Generally, the results of this project are intended to enable a unique, broad, and spatially explicit understanding of the links between natural habitat conditions, human influences on aquatic habitats, and aquatic health.

  Click To View812kb Guidance For Developing an Off-Site Stormwater Compliance Program in West Virginia (2012)

Downstream Strategies coauthored this guidance document for West Virginia's municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s). It provides definitions, details, and resources to help MS4s implement off-site mitigation and payment in lieu programs within their service areas. This report was produced in collaboration with the Center for Watershed Protection for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.

  Click To View3.4mb Sandy Creek of the Tygart Valley River Watershed-based Plan (2012)

The Sandy Creek watershed in Barbour, Preston, and Taylor counties of West Virginia has been impacted by acid mine drainage pollutants. This watershed-based plan addresses nonpoint source contaminants from acid mine drainage and details stream remediation procedures that can be used to reclaim the waterway.

  Click To View3.2mb The Impact of Coal on the Virginia State Budget (2012)

This report analyzes the fiscal impact of the coal industry on the Virginia state budget for Fiscal Year 2009 and finds that the overall impact of the industry amounted to a net cost for Virginia and its taxpayers. Future costs associated with potential funding shortfalls for reclaiming abandoned mines were also examined. Key recommendations include the elimination of the two largest tax credits supporting the coal industry, the creation of a permanent mineral trust fund and increased funding for economic diversification in coal-producing counties. The report was funded by the Rockefeller Family Fund and the Sierra Club. The Executive Summary can be downloaded here.

  Click To View777kb Alderson Community Energy Plan (2012)

As energy costs rise across Appalachia, local governments are examining ways to increase efficiency and stabilize costs while also promoting the development of new economic opportunities. Two ways to achieve these goals are by improving the energy efficiency of aging public buildings and installing solar panels to replace traditional fuels whose prices are increasingly volatile. This project, headed by the Town of Alderson resulted in the development and adoption of a Community Energy Plan for Alderson, West Virginia that was adopted by the Town Council in May 2012. The plan provides a model for sustainable energy and economic development that may be adapted for other towns and counties across the Appalachian region.

  Click To View5.6mb West Virginia Food System: Opportunities and Constraints in Local Food Supply Chains (2012)

There is increasing demand for locally grown and raised food in West Virginia, and a growing number of farmers and local food businesses are working to meet this demand. This report examines the existing local food supply chain infrastructure in the state, including processors, aggregators, distributors, and retail markets. The report includes profiles of some of West Virginia's local food businesses and a directory of local food resources. The report was produced for West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition and West Virginia Community Development Hub, with funding from the Benedum Foundation and the blue moon fund.

  Click To View3.0mb The Impact of Coal on the Pennsylvania State Budget (2012)

This report analyzes the fiscal impact of the coal industry on the Pennsylvania state budget for Fiscal Year 2010-2011 and finds that the overall impact of the industry amounted to a net cost for Pennsylvania and its taxpayers. Future costs associated with potential funding shortfalls for abandoned mine reclamation and the legacy costs resulting from longwall mining damage were also examined. Key recommendations include the implementation of a coal severance tax and the creation of a permanent mineral trust fund. The report was commissioned by the Center for Coalfield Justice.

  Click To View2.6mb Elk Headwaters Watershed Protection Plan (2012)

The Elk River headwaters in West Virginia provide habitat for a diverse range of species including trout, birds, and rare crayfish. This watershed protection plan provides a blueprint to ensure that, even with development, sediment and fecal coliform levels remain low and the watershed's sensitive surface waters are protected. It identifies causes and sources of pollution, including streambank erosion, agriculture, developed areas, and wastewater. It then identifies management measures and cost estimates, documents potential partners and funding sources, and outlines milestones and a schedule for watershed projects.

  Click To View4.3mb A Windfall for Coal Country? Exploring the Barriers to Wind Development in Appalachia (2012)

Several coal-producing states in Appalachia also boast significant wind resources. This report identifies barriers to wind development in Appalachia and suggests methods for overcoming these barriers. Barriers include those related to geography, environmental impacts, policies, and economics. The report concludes that there are many opportunities for wind development in Appalachia, even in its coal-producing counties. This report was produced in partnership with The Mountain Institute, with funding from the US Department of Energy.

  Click To View3.6mb The Opportunities for Distributed Renewable Energy in Kentucky (2012)

This report provides information and analysis illustrating the opportunities for developing distributed forms of renewable energy in Kentucky and finds that Kentucky has enough renewable energy resources to provide at least 34% of the state's electricity generation in 2025. Distributed energy generation is defined as the generation of electricity and heat, or the capture and reuse of waste heat, at or near the point of consumption. The technologies and related resources examined for this report include solar photovoltaic electricity, solar heating and cooling, small and community-owned wind power, forest biomass, combined heat and power, landfill gas-to-energy, small and low-power hydroelectric, and geothermal heating.

  Click To View1.0mb Creating an Economic Diversification Trust Fund (2012)

This report, published by the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, examines the creation of a permanent mineral trust fund in West Virginia - the Economic Diversification Trust Fund, which would convert non-renewable natural resources into a source of sustainable wealth that serves the state today and in the future through targeted investing. Income from the fund could be used to diversify the economy, make much-needed investments in infrastructure and human capital, lower future tax burdens, and deal with costs associated with past and future mineral extraction. Downstream Strategies contributed research and analysis of future production of coal and natural gas in West Virginia and the resulting performance of the trust fund.

  Click To View4.0mb West Virginia Food System: Seasonal Production Expansion and its Impacts (2012)

Despite West Virginia's mountainous terrain, many farms and much agricultural land exist in the state. However, much of the produce consumed in West Virginia is imported from out-of-state. This report examines how increased vegetable and fruit production could benefit the state in terms of food security, local economies, and increased revenue for farmers. The report was produced for West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition and West Virginia Community Development Hub, with funding from the blue moon fund.

  Click To View2.2mb Feasibility Study: Poultry Litter Composting in the Potomac Valley Conservation District, West Virginia (2012)
The health of the Chesapeake Bay — the largest estuary in the United States — is directly tied to activities on land within its watershed, and the over-application of poultry litter on farm fields contributes to excess nutrients in the Bay. At the same time, poultry farmer livelihoods are challenged by the increasing burden of complying with water quality standards and finding cost-effective uses for their manure. This feasibility study evaluates one potential solution: a commercial-scale poultry litter composting facility, which would produce environmental benefits by reducing nutrient loads, and which could also create a revenue stream for farmers. The report was produced for the blue moon fund.

Click To View11.7mb Pocahontas County Water Resources Management Plan: Phase 1—Water Resources Assessment (2012)
Pocahontas County, West Virginia has exceptional water resources and is often referred to as the "Birthplace of Rivers." The Pocahontas County Water Resources Task Force is in the process of developing a county-wide water resources management plan. The plan is divided into several phases; Phase 1 is comprised of a county water resources assessment. This study utilizes existing data to (a) assess current water quantity and quality for both surface and groundwater and (b) identify data gaps. The report also details an inclusive stakeholder process—an essential component of this project—that will ensure the work reflects the perspectives and needs of county residents, businesses, and relevant agencies.

  Click To View4.8mb Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Water and Wastewater Treatment Infrastructure (2011)
Downstream Strategies researched the state of US drinking water and wastewater infrastructure-investment trends, capital needs, operations and maintenance needs, water shortages, and emerging technologies. For several decades, spending has not kept pace with needs, resulting in a widening investment gap, leaky pipes, and interruption of service. Economic Development Research Group out of Boston, Massachusetts used Downstream Strategies' research to predict direct and indirect effects of the investment gap on the US economy—GDP, jobs, personal income, and exports. This report was commissioned by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

  Lower New River: State of the Watershed
The Lower New River is largely encompassed by National Park Service land and is a popular destination for whitewater boaters, rock climbers, hikers, and other outdoor adventurers. However, the river and several of its tributaries are impaired by fecal coliform bacteria. The New River Clean Water Alliance developed this report to document water quality issues and to involve the community in restoring the river. Downstream Strategies contributed by conducting data analysis on water quality, gathering and analyzing stakeholder input, predicting project feasibility, and arriving at priority tributaries to focus recommendations.

  Click To View2.8mb Measuring Water Quality Improvements: TMDL Implementation Progress, Indicators, and Tracking (2011)
In recent years, tens of thousands of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) have been developed and approved for impaired waters across the country. TMDLs allocate pollutant loading reductions among pollution sources to bring water bodies into compliance with water quality standards. This report summarizes and synthesizes recent studies that assess progress in implementing TMDLs and describes indicators that can be used to understand progress in watershed restoration. This research was conducted in collaboration with Kent State University's Center for Public Administration and Public Policy.

  Click To View5.4mb Greenbrier Valley Local Foods: The Possibilities and Potential (2011)
How much room to grow? This project evaluates the possibility of expanding the Greenbrier Valley local food system, based on the land-based potential and existing agricultural knowledgebase of the region. Using GIS and information from agricultural experts, this report highlights land area and potential niche market opportunities that could help expand the local food system. This report, completed for the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation (GVEDC), a local development agency, offers ideas and resources for those interested in entering farming or expanding their business.

Picture of report cover of Preston Vision Report   Click To View1.3mb Preston County Vision Report (2011)
The vision report documents and analyzes the data collected via surveys and town hall meetings during the visioning efforts in Preston County between 2005 and 2006. This report also serves as a tool for strategic planning and decision-making in the county and its communities as well as a resource for grant or technical assistance applications. This vision report is intended to reflect perspectives of Preston County residents and give back to community members after their participation in the visioning process.

Picture of report cover of AMD remedeation of North Branch Potomac River   Click To View1.0mb Future of the Mountain: A Common Vision for the Jefferson County Blue Ridge Mountain Communities Area (2010)
This common vision document is a reflection of a facilitated public outreach process with the residents and stakeholders of Jefferson County’s Blue Ridge Mountain Communities Area (“the Mountain”). The process and document lay the foundation for a watershed plan for the Mountain.

Picture of report cover of AMD remedeation of North Branch Potomac River   Click To View2.6mb Blue Ridge Mountain Communities Area Watershed Plan: Engineering Report (2010)
This engineering report, co-authored with Harbor Engineering, serves as recommendations to the County and Planning Commissions in Jefferson County, West Virginia. These recommendations are intended to serve as a component of the watershed plan for the Blue Ridge Mountain Communities Area ("the Mountain") and serve as a basis to move forward and address identified issues on the Mountain. This report outlines stormwater best management practices for steep slope watershed management, as well as recommendations for impervious surface cover limits and improved road access.

Picture of report cover of AMD remedeation of North Branch Potomac River   Click To View4.1mb The Benefits of Acid Mine Drainage Remediation on the North Branch Potomac River (2010)
After decades of impairment, a successful program initiated by innovative staff at Maryland state agencies has transformed the North Branch Potomac River into a popular recreational river and a driver of local economic development. This remarkable improvement in water quality is the direct result of the installation of eight dosers since 1992, which add alkaline material to the river and its tributaries to treat acid mine drainage from abandoned coal mines. This study calculates the local economic benefits generated in these Maryland counties stemming from acid mine drainage remediation on the North Branch, so that policy makers can make informed decisions about future funding to ensure that this remediation continues. These benefits are calculated from a survey of North Branch anglers and boaters and include three types: local spending, the economic impacts of that spending, and the willingness-to-pay even more for recreational experiences.


Click To View7.7mb Spatial Analysis of Coal Mining Impacts on Eastern Kentucky Watersheds (2010)
Surface coal mining has historically been and continues to be a prevalent industry in the eastern coalfields of Kentucky. Surface mining methods of coal extraction impact the land, air, water, watersheds, local communities and public health. When overburden is cleared or the surface is impacted in order to extract coal, those impacts to the watershed can be calculated based on area and proximity to certain sensitive features. Using publicly accessible data, this report uses GIS to model, quantify, and report those impacts.

Click To View14.4mb Plants Not Pipes: Promoting Green Infrastructure and its Side Benefits in Region VI (2010)
Green infrastructure refers to stormwater management techniques that infiltrate, evapotranspire, and capture and reuse runoff. These techniques include green roofs, rain barrels, permeable pavement, and many others. In addition to reducing the volume and pollution levels of stormwater runoff, green infrastructure provides many side benefits ranging from reduced maintenance and water utility costs to improved aesthetics and air quality. This report is part of a broader project to introduce green infrastructure to communities in West Virginia’s Region VI Planning and Development Council and to provide tools to encourage more widespread use of the techniques.

  Click To View289kb Response to Calvin A. Kent and Kent Sowards Memorandum of September 13, 2010 on "The Impact of Coal on the West Virginia State Budget" (2010)
On September 13, 2010, Calvin A. Kent and Kent Sowards of Marshall University presented a detailed memorandum to the Members of the West Virginia Joint Finance Committee—Subcommittee B, outlining their criticism to a report by Downstream Strategies and the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (WVCBP), "Coal and Renewables in Central Appalachia: The Impact of Coal on the West Virginia State Budget" (2010). Downstream Strategies and the WVCBP responded to these criticisms on November 15, 2010 in this memorandum.

Click To View3.7mb Coal and Renewables in Central Appalachia: The Impact of Coal on the West Virginia State Budget (2010)
Part of the ongoing “Coal and Renewables in Central Appalachia” project, this report provides an initial accounting of both the benefits and costs attributable to the West Virginia coal industry for Fiscal Year 2009, and examines the legacy costs associated with past coal industry activity. This project was in collaboration with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

Click To View2.4mb Coal and Renewables in Central Appalachia: The Impact of Coal on the Tennessee State Budget (2010)
Part of the ongoing “Coal and Renewables in Central Appalachia” project, this report provides an initial accounting of both the benefits and costs attributable to the Tennessee coal industry for Fiscal Year 2009, and examines the legacy costs associated with past coal industry activity. This project was in collaboration with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

Click To View1.6mb The Decline of Central Appalachian Coal and the Need for Economic Diversification (2010)
Coal production in Central Appalachia is on the decline, and this decline will likely continue in the coming decades due to three primary factors: increased competition from other coal-producing regions and sources of energy; the depletion of the most accessible, lowest-cost coal reserves; and environmental regulations. This report analyzes how each of these factors has, and will continue to impact coal production in Central Appalachia, and argues that pending future declines require greater support for economic diversification in the region.


Click To View5.2mb Central Appalachia Prosperity Project, Phase 1-Objective 1: Collect Existing Research and Information Instructive for Appalachia (2009)
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1.4mb Central Appalachia Prosperity Project, Phase 1-Objective 3: Identify Federal, State, and Local Funds, Programs, and Policies that Can Help Appalachia Transition Toward a Green Economy (2009)The Central Appalachia Prosperity Project (CAPP) is a one‐year privately funded initiative to create a plan for the region’s transition to a clean energy economy built on green jobs and industries, healthy communities, protection of natural resources, and restoration of assets that have been depleted or damaged by past activities. Modeled loosely on the Presidential Climate Action Plan, the CAPP plan will contain detailed recommendations for changes in federal, state, regional, and local policies and programs to help the region accomplish this transition.

Click To View2mb Watershed-based Plan for the Wolf Creek Watershed of the New River (2009)
This watershed-based plan covers the 11,000-acre Wolf Creek watershed. The plan addresses fecal coliform, iron, and aluminum impairments attributed to acid mine drainage, streambank erosion, pastureland, and onsite sewer systems.


Click To View3.6mb Taxing West Virginia’s Coal Reserves: A Primer (2009)
Downstream Strategies and the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy reviewed the Reserve Coal Valuation Model used by the West Virginia State Tax Department and published a primer on the system.  Downstream Strategies is continuing research utilizing GIS to recreate the state model using coal and landowner data. This GIS-based model assesses coal reserve values and links those values to owners.

Click To View850kb Implementing Total Maximum Daily loads: Understanding and Fostering Successful Results (2008)
Downstream Strategies collaborated with Kent State University's Center for Public Administration and Public Policy to research progress in TMDL implementation. The study results address three specific questions. The first question addressed is: To what extent are TMDLs being implemented in Ohio and West Virginia? The second question focuses on identifying factors that facilitate progress in the implementation of TMDLs in these two states. And the third question relates to steps that can be taken to facilitate further progress in the implementation of TMDLs.

Click To View2.9mb The Long-term Economic Benefits of Wind Versus Mountaintop Removal Coal on Coal River Mountain, West Virginia (2008)
This report examines the long-term local economic benefits and externalities associated with mountaintop removal coal mining and wind turbine construction on Coal River Mountain.

Click To View2mb State of the Watershed: Elk Headwaters, West Virginia (2008)
The Elk River headwaters provide habitat for a diverse range of species including trout, birds, and rare crayfish. This report analyzes watershed characteristics, compiles water quality data, identifies issues of concern to local stakeholders, and provides recommendations for further analysis and action.

Click To View18.9mb An Economic Benefit Analysis for Abandoned Mine Drainage Remediation in the West Branch Susquehanna River Watershed, Pennsylvania (2008)
This report describes and quantifies the local and statewide economic benefits stemming from remediation of the West Branch Susquehanna watershed in Pennsylvania.

Click To View7.6mb Left Fork Sandy Creek Watershed Investigation (2008)
Surface water and private wells in the Left Fork of Sandy Creek watershed were tested and assessed for possible contamination by acid mine drainage treatment sludge.

  Click To View658kb West Virginia’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit Program (2008)
Thirty West Virginia communities are designated by the EPA as Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems under the Phase II expansion of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System stormwater program.In this report, scientists from the West Virginia Water Research Institute, Downstream Strategies, and WVU evaluate MS4 permit implementation in West Virginia.

Click To View1.4mb Impacts of Trailco’s High-voltage Power Line Across the Laurel Run Corridor (2007)
Laurel Run, a trout stream, was threatened by a proposed high-voltage power line and its cleared right-of-way and access roads. This study documents data regarding the trout and the health of the streams; provides inventories of wetlands, birds, and frogs; documents historic and recreational areas; and considers the likely impacts on these resources from the construction and future maintenance of the power line

Click To View422kb The Prospects for Landfill Gas-to-energy Projects in West Virginia (2006)
Studies examined why landfill gas-to-energy projects were not being implemented on small public landfills in West Virginia, and considered financial incentives that would make these projects viable such as carbon credits and renewable energy credits.

Click To View2.8mb Watershed Based Plan for the Three Fork Creek Watershed in the Tygart Valley River Drainage, West Virginia (2006)
The Three Fork Creek watershed lies in Preston, Monongalia, and Taylor Counties and is impaired for acid mine drainage pollutants. This plan suggests remediation efforts and an implementation schedule for cleaning up the watershed.

Click To View1mb Watershed Based Plan for the Lower Cheat River Watershed (2005)
This plan addresses the impairments present in the lower Cheat watershed, with a focus on acid mine drainage. The plan offers cost estimates for recommended remediation, considers necessary technical and financial assistance, and proposes an implementation schedule and outreach/education program.

Click To View800kb Watershed Based Plan for the North Fork Blackwater River Watershed, West Virginia (2005)
This Watershed Based Plan covers the North Fork of the Blackwater River in West Virginia, from its headwaters at Fairfax Summit to the mouth, including all tributaries. The North Fork and three main tributaries are impaired by acid mine drainage pollutants. Biological impairments of unknown causes and bacteria and sediment problems have also been documented.

Click To View2.1mb Watershed Assessment for the Robinson Run Watershed, Monongalia County, West Virginia (2005)
Robinson Run is a small tributary of the Monongahela River that drains approximately 7.7 square miles of Monongalia County. This assessment focuses on acid mine drainage—by far the most significant water quality problem in the watershed—and documents every known nonpoint source of acid mine drainage. Where data allow, costs of remediating each site are calculated. An implementation schedule and outreach/education program are also proposed.

Click To View515kb Water Quality Impacts of Coal Combustion Waste Disposal in Two West Virginia Coal Mines (2005)
The burning of coal produces a variety of toxic waste products. This report evaluates the impacts of coal combustion waste on water quality.

Click To View1.6mb The Potential for Water Quality Trading to Help Implement the Cheat Watershed Acid Mine Drainage Total Maximum Daily Load in West Virginia (2004)
This report summarizes and expands on over two years of discussions that have taken place under a pilot water quality trading project. It includes environmental, economic, and other analyses to support a decision on whether or not a water quality trading program may be helpful in implementing the Cheat total maximum daily load. This report also analyzes key options to help agency staff and local stakeholders understand the implications of several important decisions that ultimately must be made regarding the final details of the trading program.

Click To View319kb Poultry Litter in the Potomac Headwaters: How Can We Reach a Long-term Balance? (1999)
This report asks: Given the quantity of nutrients generated by the concentrated poultry industry in the Potomac headwaters of West Virginia, how can we ensure a long-term nutrient balance? To answer this question, it presents a model of nutrient uptake on agricultural land and a model of nutrient generation by poultry. These models are used to determine the capacity of each county's agricultural land to recycle nitrogen and phosphorus: the nutrient uptake capacities. These nutrient uptake capacities are converted to poultry production capacities based on the nutrients in poultry manure. Finally, the model is expanded to include exported litter and additional significant nutrient sources: cattle manure, commercial fertilizers, and municipal and industrial sludge.