National Water Quality Monitoring Council recognizes WVWRI and 3RQ

Written by NRCCE News on . Posted in Blog, News

The West Virginia Water Research Institute and Three Rivers QUEST have been recognized for their work in improving the water quality of the Monongahela River by the National Water Quality Monitoring Council.

The programs are featured in a success story in the council’s Spring 2015 issue of National Water Monitoring News.

The National Water Quality Monitoring Council brings together scientists, managers, and citizens to ensure information about the quality of U.S. water resources is accurate, reliable and comparable.

The newsletter highlighted the program implemented by WVWRI and 3RQ to improve the Mon River.

In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) declared the Monongahela River impaired for potable water use due to the presence of sulfate salts.

A plan, spearheaded by WVWRI, combined water science with stakeholder collaboration, sought to restore the river in less time than the traditional regulatory process.  3RQ provided the data necessary for the improvement plan, as well as the statistics of its success.

By 2010, the plan was in effect and sulfate concentrations in the Monongahela River began to decrease. As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved PADEP’s decision to remove the Mon from the “impaired for potable water use” listing in late 2014.

$350,000 Grant Expands WVWRI Water Quality Monitoring of Mon, Allegheny and Ohio Rivers

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Blog, News

Morgantown, W.Va. – The West Virginia Water Research Institute, a program of West Virginia University, has been awarded a $350,000 grant from the Colcom Foundation to continue and expand a regional water quality monitoring program called Three Rivers QUEST.

The Colcom Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based private foundation dedicated to fostering a sustainable environment, provided for the launch of the Mon River QUEST in 2010 after monitoring began in 2009 on the Monongahela River through a U.S. Geological Survey grant. The effort expanded to become the Three Rivers QUEST (3RQ), with Colcom Foundation contributing more than $1.6 million toward its overall efforts.

The current 3RQ program allows researchers to identify long-term water quality trends in the three river basins for which the program takes its name – Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio. This latest award will allow the program to continue and expand its focus.

“The program is evolving,” said Carol Zagrocki, Colcom Foundation Environmental Program director. “It has become a valuable tool that 3RQ’s academic partners and local watershed groups can use to collaboratively resolve water quality issues and keep our water safe and clean.”

“Since its inception, the 3RQ has been a model for river and ecosystem research,” said Dr. Stan Kabala, 3RQ program coordinator for the Allegheny Region – based out of the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University. “It applies exemplary inter-university collaboration, rigorous science and a commitment to community engagement to an ecologically and economically complex river system.”

The new Colcom grant creates REACH, which stands for Research Enhancing Awareness via Community Hydrology.

“In its first two years, 3RQ gathered an impressive arsenal of water-quality data on its three rivers,” said Kabala. “Now, the new “REACH” program will take this data into the communities of the 3RQ region to engage citizens and citizen scientists to use that information to protect the water, the ecosystems, and the livelihoods that those rivers make possible.”

Through REACH, each partner will appoint a coordinator to serve as a liaison between researchers and the public. The coordinators will provide training to water-monitoring groups about the management tools available in the QUEST database. They also will engage with academic and educational institutions to build connections and disseminate data. All the data in this database is available via an interactive map.

The data that program researchers have collected has provided valuable information about the health of these waterways to scientists, state and federal agencies and the public. One of the program’s major accomplishments was the delisting of sulfate contamination of Monongahela River by the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection (PADEP) in late 2014.

“3RQ has engaged the community with the region’s leading water scientists with outcomes that may be unique at the national level,” said Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, WVU’s West Virginia Water Research Institute director. “For example, as a direct result of 3RQ’s work on sulfate pollution, both PADEP and the United States Environmental Protection Agency agreed last December that it no longer impaired drinking water supplies on the Monongahela River. By making our regular stream and river monitoring data available on our website, the public is empowered, knowing the status of their streams and helping identify potential threats to the aquatic ecosystem.”

With the assistance 3RQ provided, volunteer water quality monitoring groups have trained over 50 volunteers, collected field data at over 100 sites, have deployed around 60 continuous data loggers, and have collected samples for the analytical laboratory analysis at 70 sites.

“With the REACH initiative, we are able to take the data collected by volunteers a step further,” said Melissa O’Neal, 3RQ Program manager. “The mini-grant program previously assisted groups with acquiring training, equipment, and staff time.

“Now that a lot of the volunteers are equipped, we can take a close look at the data they are collecting and identify areas of concern. With this grant we have funding to go in and work with the watershed groups to perform targeted studies.

“We are not only collecting more data to determine the impairment,” said O’Neal, “but working with watershed groups and local entities to improve water quality.”

About Three Rivers QUEST
Led by WVWRI, 3RQ includes a coordinated regional network of research partners, including Wheeling Jesuit University, Duquesne University, and the Iron Furnace Chapter of Trout Unlimited as well as watershed organizations throughout the Upper Ohio River Basin. Together, this team provides water quality research to the public, industry, agencies and organizations in easy-to-understand formats. The 3RQ is interested in providing data management tools to all volunteer water monitoring groups in the Ohio River Basin – please contact Melissa O’Neal (moneal@mail.wvu.edu) for more information or visit www.3RiversQuest.org.

About the West Virginia Water Research Institute
WVWRI is a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University. Founded in 1967, WVWRI is funded through federal, state and private sources. It serves as a statewide vehicle for performing research related to water issues. WVWRI is the premier water research center in West Virginia and, within selected fields, an international leader. Information about WVWRI may be found at www.wvwri.org.

About the Colcom Foundation
The primary mission of the Colcom Foundation is to foster a sustainable environment to ensure quality of life for all Americans by addressing major causes and consequences of overpopulation and its adverse effects on natural resources. Regionally, the Foundation supports conservation, environmental projects and cultural assets. To learn more about the Colcom Foundation, go to www.colcomfdn.org.

About the West Virginia University Foundation
The Colcom grant was made through the WVU Foundation in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion fundraising effort runs through December 2017. For more information about the campaign, visit www.astateofminds.com.

 

 

 

Annual Banquet for Washington County Watershed Alliance

Written by Josh Ash on . Posted in News

Events-Icon

The Washington County Watershed Alliance will be hosting their 3rd Annual Meeting and Banquet on Thursday, March 19.  The event will be held at the Buffalo Twp. Municipal Building 400 Buffalo Center Lane Washington, PA.

The meeting, with a banquet dinner, is held to provide members of the Alliance and Watershed Associations the opportunity to socialize and network.  Members will also get to enjoy presentation and displays from regional groups who can assist their Watershed Associations with work in the upcoming year.

The focus this year is on conversion and collaboration  between associations, organizations, and businesses. The event starts at 5:30 PM and dinner is at 6:30PM. All are welcome! Registration is $10/person. 

For more information about the event, please contact:

Jennifer Dann
Washington County Conservation District Watershed Specialist
(724) 503-4785
jdann@pawccd.org

Click here for the Meeting Registration Form 

Convergence at the Confluence Recap, News Articles, and Photos

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Events, News

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – (Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014) – The 3 Rivers QUEST (3RQ), a program of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University, hosted the Convergence at the Confluence Conference in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Monday, Aug. 11.  The conference, funded by the Colcom Foundation, brought together those involved with the regional water quality monitoring program and gave the public an opportunity to learn more about water quality in the Upper Ohio River Basin.

The conference featured talks from the program’s research partners, including Melissa O’Neal of the West Virginia Water Research Institute, Dr. Brady Porter and Dr. Beth Dakin of the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University, and Dr. Benjamin Stout of Wheeling Jesuit University.  The various research partners provided overviews of water quality data in their respective areas of focus, including the Monongahela River, Allegheny River, and the Ohio River. 

In addition to the presentations focused on the researcher’s data, the event also provided a great opportunity for the various watershed groups involved 3RQ to network and discuss, in an open format, their monitoring efforts. 

“Biweekly chemical monitoring in the Monongahela River Basin was initiated in 2009 and by early 2013 the 3RQ research partners had begun monitoring throughout the Upper Ohio River Basin,” explained O’Neal.  “We’ve also had numerous watershed groups involved, so a lot of data has been collected.  Bringing everyone together at this event allows us to discuss what we’ve been seeing and to build upon the collaborative monitoring model we’ve established amongst scientists and citizens.”

Presentations from the conference are currently available on the 3 Rivers QUEST Web site and can be viewed at, http://3riversquest.org/convergence-at-the-confluence/conference-info/

For more information about 3 Rivers QUEST and to see water quality information from throughout the Upper Ohio River Basin, visit the program’s Web site, www.3RiversQUEST.org.

About the West Virginia Water Research Institute

The West Virginia Water Research Institute has been in existence since 1967 and serves as a statewide vehicle for performing research related to water issues. It is the premier water research center in West Virginia and, within selected fields, an international leader.

About the Colcom Foundation
The primary mission of the Colcom Foundation is to foster a sustainable environment to ensure quality of life for all Americans by addressing major causes and consequences of overpopulation and its adverse effects on natural resources. Regionally, the Foundation supports conservation, environmental projects and cultural assets.


3RQ Convergence at the Confluence Conference – In the News

8/12/14
Scientists: Water in Upper Ohio Basin Remains Safe
http://businessjournaldaily.com/drilling-down/scientists-water-upper-ohio-basin-remains-safe-2014-8-12

Businessjournaldaily.com reported that drinking water in the Upper Ohio River basin is safe to drink, but it remains vital that the monitoring of runoff into the region’s rivers and creeks be continued. That’s the conclusion of water quality experts from Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia who spoke Monday at the Convergence at the Confluence, a daylong conference hosted by the Three Rivers QUEST water-quality monitoring program. The event, funded by Colcom Foundation of Pittsburgh, was held at Duquesne University

8/12/14
Official: Dunkard Creek Cooperation Working
http://thedpost.com/Official–Dunkard-Creek-cooperat

Thedpost.com reported that Bi-weekly monitoring of Dunkard Creek by experts and volunteers, combined with industry cooperation, has helped ward off another Dunkard Creek fish kill, water quality advocates from around the region learned Monday, Aug. 11. At Monday’s conference, held at Duquesne University, just a few city blocks from the confluence of the three rivers, members reviewed what they’ve accomplished and looked at what’s ahead.

 8/12/14
Experts: Ohio River Basin Drinking Water Safe, but Needs More Monitoring
http://www.timesonline.com/news/local_news/experts-ohio-river-basin-drinking-water-safe-but-needs-more/article_6a12afa2-eb74-5217-a78b-ed521ce661de.html

Timesonline.com reported that drinking water in the Upper Ohio River Basin is safe, but it is still vital that the monitoring of run-off into the region’s rivers and creeks be continued. The Environmental Protection Agency has a limit of 500 mg of TDS per liter of water, said Beth Dakin of Duquesne University’s Center for Environmental Research and Education, who spoke at the event.

8/11/14
What is the Quality of Pennsylvania’s Water? It’s Getting Better
http://wesa.fm/post/what-quality-pennsylvania-s-water-it-s-getting-better

Wesa.fm reported that before the implementation of the Clean Water Act, Pittsburgh’s rivers were so polluted, they barely even had fish, according to Brady Porter, Duquesne University associate professor of biology. Stan Kabala, associate director of CERE, also was interviewed.


 

Photos from the 3RQ Convergence at the Confluence Conference

*Photo Credit – Lisa Mikolajek Barton, Duquesne University*