River Threats

Our beloved Cacapon River is unique among rivers. It is a clean, healthy local and state treasure that is mostly free of threats. But in recent years, threats to our river’s health and recreational qualities have continued to arise. 

Here, you can find the most recent, up-to-date information on the river threats that the Friends of the Cacapon River are monitoring closely. 

Cacapon River Sewage Pollution in Capon Bridge

The wastewater treatment plant in the Town of Capon Bridge, West Virginia, was malfunctioning and releasing pollution—in the form of alarming levels of fecal coliform, discolored effluent, excess chlorine, and floating solid waste—directly into the Cacapon River for almost two years. At one point, the levels of fecal coliform were 300 times the allowable limit, causing many to fear for the health of the Cacapon River and the safety of those who swim, fish, and kayak in the river.

Recent water testing has shown the pollution levels to be within acceptable limits, although they continue to fluctuate. The wastewater treatment plant is now planning improvements to increase effectiveness and stop the bacteria levels from rising above acceptable limits.

Lost River Shoot—A Machine Gun Range Firing Across Cacapon River

In the Town of Yellow Springs in Hampshire County, there’s a machine gun range that is dangerously shooting machine guns across the Cacapon River, located off of Route 259 just above the Hampshire-Hardy County line. 

The range is called Lost River Shoot, and it has set up a large-scale machine-gun range on a 900 acre parcel of land on the Cacapon River—with nothing to stop the bullets from hitting trees along the riverbank and passing across the river to the other side.

Massive Algae Bloom Impairs River Recreation

A massive green algae bloom is plaguing the Cacapon River near Yellow Spring in Hampshire County. This overgrowth of stringy algae, known as filamentous algae, stretches for several river miles. In the summer months, the largest patch is 3 miles long and covers up to 80 percent of the river, making swimming, fishing, and paddling nearly impossible. 

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) recently deemed this algae-affected portion of the Cacapon River to be “recreationally impaired.” For the first time ever, our notoriously healthy river has made WVDEP’s list of impaired streams in the state. Thankfully, unlike other varieties of algae, filamentous green algae is not toxic to our river’s waters. It’s considered more of a nuisance than a toxin.


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