WV Wildlife: New Liners at Apple Grove Fish Hatchery

The seams of each new liner are taped and sealed with industrial sealant. (WCHS/WVAH)

At Apple Grove fish hatchery in Mason County, the work never stops.

This warm-water hatchery, which holds fish like musky, walleye and catfish to name a few, is a 24/7 business.

These large holding ponds, some of which are large enough to even hold a football field, are the heart of this facility.

Keeping these in top shape--and more specifically, their liners-- are crucial.

After 20 plus years, it was simply time for a change.

"These liner systems have a life expectancy--and over time, they degrade from various reasons, whether it be uv, ozone, equipment, weather", said Don Bailey—an engineer associate with the West Virginia Division or Natural Resources.

That's why Don and other engineers will be at the hatchery over the next several months.

Their job? To replace all of the giant liners with new ones. This will help the fish that are raised here, which will also help the DNR’s ability to stock them all across the mountain state.

"We've changed it up a little bit this time to go with a new product we think we'll give us about 20 to 30 years of good use out of. It is widely used in the United States, actually worldwide. EPDM liner is one of the most widely used liner systems for ponds, particularly hatcheries right now in the United States", said Bailey.

It's a lot of hard work. The existing liners first have to be cut out and hauled away. After that, a geotech mat, which is used for protection, is placed down before the liners can finally go in.

"There are 34 ponds on site and we're hoping by November-we will be complete and back to full operation. Make sure that everything is sealed up appropriately, and at that point--if all the tests pass, we put some fish in", said Bailey.

And on this rare piece of flat land in West Virginia--thanks to being in the Ohio River Valley--those fish will have plenty of room to thrive in.

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