QUEST, or Quality Useful Environmental Study Teams is a water quality monitoring and reporting program that includes two distinct, yet collaborative approaches to collecting water quality data and information:
QUEST Research Partners – Led by the West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University, this component of the QUEST program includes a regimented program of monthly water quality sampling. Sampling takes place on the mainstem of the 3 rivers included in the project (Monongahela, Allegheny, and Ohio) and includes a full detailed laboratory analysis of the samples. This detailed water chemistry and flow information is used to determine the loading of Total Dissolved Solids and other parameters.
QUEST Volunteer Organizations– In each region, there are also QUEST Volunteer Organizations involved in the project! This is a coordinated effort of grassroots organizations such as watershed associations, conservation districts, individuals, and schools that contribute to the collection of important water quality data. QUEST Volunteer Organizations collect, at a minimum, data on conductivity, pH and water temperature. Some groups do a chemical analysis in-house and provide us with the results, which are uploaded to the 3RQ database. This helps to contribute to the data set and help provide a better overall picture of the health of three river basins (Monongahela, Allegheny, and Upper Ohio).
REACH 4Schools – This pilot program, started in 2016, engages students from grades 6 through university level in monitoring water quality within the 3RQ Regions. Middle and high schools that participate in the project become involved by collecting data, either continuous by deploying data loggers, and/or discrete by obtaining physical samples for chemical analysis. They also learn about water quality, water chemistry, biology, aquatic biology, scientific protocols and more. The data the schools collect are managed and shared with other participating schools through the 3RQ Data Management Tool (DMT) at no cost to the schools. By sharing data, students learn about scientific collaboration, in addition to helping provide a more complete picture of the overall health of the three rivers.
Geographical Scope – The 3 Rivers QUEST project covers 3 river basins: Allegheny, Monongahela, and Upper Ohio. The map below shows both the scope of the project and details the various watersheds that each region will be covering.