Orange Drainage On 29th Street

WHEELING – West Virginia Division of Highways officials are working to figure out why discolored water is gurgling out onto 29th Street from beneath the Interstate 470 overpass in Wheeling, creating a bright orange mess on the street and sidewalk.

Acting DOH District 6 Manager Tom Badgett said they first noticed the issue about two weeks ago. Officials first suspected a waterline break when the heavy flow of water began, but tests found no problems with any lines in the area, according to Wheeling Public Works Director Russell Jebbia.

From the city’s stormwater system, the water would enter Caldwell Run and, from there, flow into the Ohio River, Jebbia said. He believes the water could be coming from a previously undiscovered spring flowing up through an old mine shaft.

“We had such a wet winter, we’ve got springs popping up throughout the city,” Jebbia said.

Badgett said his office is working to figure out what’s causing the issue. Although the water is copper-colored, he said they have no evidence it’s acid mine drainage, adding it could be the result of a culvert backing up.

“We’ve had to go in there before and clean out the drain,” Badgett said. “We’ve never had a test run on it. … We may need to do that if we can’t eliminate it from coming out.”

Badgett said he planned to send his office’s environmental specialist to check out the situation, and said the DOH is working to resolve the situation as quickly as it can.

“We’ve come out of one of the worst winters we’ve had … and that causes you a lot of drainage issues,” he said. “Our top priority right now is getting the potholes under control.”

Jebbia said he believes the heavy volume of water is causing some damage to the sidewalk.

“It looks like it’s come up a little bit,” he said.