Lumberport Man Seeks DEP Assistance After Mine Drainage Damages - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

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A Harrison County man wants answers from the state as drainage floods his home and his property sinks deeper every day.

About four years ago, Chris Swiger set out to build his dream home on the land that has been in his family for decades. But now the product of that dream is literally sinking into the ground.

"[The property] had always been in our family, so I wanted to build here. We got the house done, we were in it in 15 months. Then two-and-a-half years ago, something happened," said Swiger.

That "something" came in the form of orange liquid that has flooded the basement of Swiger's home.

"It's not rain water, it's not runoff, it's very thick. And what it does is, it plugs up everything. So now, my French drains are completely plugged up, I can't get water anywhere away from my foundation," said Swiger.

Swiger said it all started more than two years ago, as his neighbors continued their fight to save their home.

"Their front porch had fallen off, their foundation was cracked, and finally, the DEP came out and fixed those. Within that same week, a Marcellus Shale gas well located about 500 yards from my house was pressure fracked in. Within two days, I've had water in my basement," said Swiger.

So he contacted the Department of Environmental Protection.

"The highest priority is going to be an emergency. Then after that, you've got a Priority One, Priority Two, and Priority Three," said Robert Rice, chief of Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) for the DEP.

"[They said it would] take several years, if not longer, before they would get to me," said Swiger.

In the mean time, he's had to improvise by building his own pump system.

"The amount of water is anywhere in between 90-100 gallons of water a day," said Swiger.

The DEP said it understands Swiger's concerns but that limited resources require him and hundreds of other residents to get in line.

"His problem isn't exclusive to that area. You've got sites all across West Virginia where folks have mine drainage coming into their basement. Unfortunately, the problems we have to work on out there far exceed the funds we receive," said Rice.

"It will affect other people. Because water, if it gets stopped somewhere, it will find somewhere else to go," said Swiger.