WVDA’s Environmental Programs and Laboratories are based at the Moorefield, West Virginia, Regional Agricultural Complex. These programs began in 1993 and involved the employment of a chemist and the installation of equipment for the testing of nutrients in animal manures. These efforts expanded with the additional testing activities for an outside nutrient digesting project relating to poultry litter. Additional employees were hired to perform the testing required for these projects.
In 1997, seven streams in the eastern panhandle were listed on the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) 303d list, and Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) parameters were written for all seven of these streams. The implication was that agriculture contributed significantly to this situation. Because of this implication, it was decided that the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) would conduct long term monitoring on these streams to better evaluate water quality trends over time. The WVDA facility in Moorefield was then expanded to include additional laboratories and offices. This allowed for increased services to the Eastern Panhandle communities, especially with the testing of surface water.
This section of the READ division is now involved in monitoring the water quality of fifteen streams, working with State and Federal agencies on the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, working with agricultural producers on nutrient management and compliance with regulations, verification of agricultural Best Management Practices, assisting the poultry industry in many aspects, and reaching out to the agricultural community and the public with meaningful agriculture education programs.
The Environmental Laboratories specialize in surface water and drinking water analysis, poultry litter and manure analysis, soil analysis, microbiology, and dairy sample analysis. All laboratories participate in check sample programs for proficiency as well as certification by outside agencies.