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Ziemkiewicz analyzes data from untreated mine water used as a drinking source for Inside Appalachia

Written by Tracy Novak, NRCCE Communications on . Posted in Media, News

Morgantown, W.Va. – As mining companies close and leave Appalachia, water systems in these company towns are often abandoned. Eight water systems in southern West Virginia are “intractable,” meaning the systems are no longer maintained and the water is no longer treated, leaving residents vulnerable. In Garwood (Wyoming County), water comes from an abandoned coal mine.

Inside Appalachia, a program on West Virginia Public Broadcasting, examined the question, “Is water from an abandoned coal mine fit to drink?” Reporter Anne Li asked Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute, to comment on water testing results from coal mine water that feeds into Garwood’s derelict water system.

With the limited data provided, according to Ziemkiewicz, the worst containment in the water from 2000 to 2008 was coliform. This bacteria can be a sign of sewage contaminating the water supply. Data from 2008 to 2014 showed no signs of coliform, but because the water is still untreated, Garwood has been on a boil water advisory since 2015.

Hear more details on Inside Appalachia’s: “Coal’s Legacy in Appalachia: As Mining Companies Close, Water Systems Fail.” “Mine water as a drinking source” segment starts at 36.05. Ziemkiewicz’s comments at 37:01.

-NRCCE-

tn/2/20/17

An icon that notifies readers of a West Virginia Water Research Institute Event.

WVWRI to co-host regional water conference; announces Call for Abstracts

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Blog, Events, News

The West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University is accepting abstracts through March 27 for the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Water Resources Conference.

The event will be held October 12-13, 2017 at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va. “Water Research: Building Knowledge and Innovative Solutions” is the theme for this regional conference.

Researchers from colleges and universities, state and federal agencies, private organizations, consulting firms, industry and students are invited to submit abstracts for consideration for oral and poster presentations.

Abstracts for basic and applied research papers are being solicited in all areas related to water resources including infrastructure, energy, monitoring, policy, supply, technology, water quality and others.

The conference combines exceptional educational programs with opportunities for researchers, policy makers, state and federal agencies, environmental consultants, private organizations and the public to share in the latest information, technologies and research relating to water resources in the Mid-Atlantic.

“Water science, unlike many fields, involves a wide range of disciplines including law, engineering, social sciences, policy, economics, chemistry and biology,” said Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute.

“This conference is a great opportunity to bring practitioners together to build the knowledge base needed to effectively manage our most precious resource.”

The event is being hosted by the West Virginia Water Research Institute, University of Delaware Water Resources Center, Pennsylvania Center for Water Resources Research at Pennsylvania State University, and the Virginia Water Resources Research Center at Virginia Tech.

For more information about the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Water Resources Conference, including abstract submission details, please visit www.midatlanticwrc.org.

FY17 WVWRI & USGS 104b Request for Proposals

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Funding, News

Background

The West Virginia Water Research Institute is requesting proposals for research expected to be funded March 1, 2017 through February 28, 2018. The U.S. Geological Survey will sponsor the research. Faculty from all West Virginia colleges and universities are encouraged to submit proposals. It is expected that up to 4 projects will be funded at $10,000 each. The closing date is December 21, 2016.

Proposals are invited that enhance the Environmental STEM Research Program at the Boy Scouts of America’s Summit Bechtel Reserve in Mount Hope, West Virginia. Successful applicants will develop aspects of the proposed research into a curriculum that will be taught to Boy Scouts of varying ages, typically 12-20 years of age. Proposed research and activities should complement the current Environmental STEM Research Program at the BSA Bechtel Summit and fit into the framework already established. Research areas already established in the program include Ecohydrology, Wetland Ecology and Phenology.

Research topics of primary interest include stream recovery from mining operations and indicators of long term climatic trends.

Closing Date:

December 21, 2016

Eligibility Requirements

Eligible applicants are faculty members or affiliates at institutions of higher education in the State of West Virginia.

Ineligible applicants are the following:

    a. Applications for research on health effects involving human subjects.
    b. Applications for research involving oceanography (estuarine research applications are acceptable).
    c. Applications submitted by principal investigator(s) that have not met reporting requirements on a previous award by the USGS.

View and download the RFP by clicking the image below.

Pages from RFP USGS 104b program FY17

WVU Study will Determine amount of rare earth elements in the region’s coal mining waste

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in News, Press Release

(Photo credit - WVU University Relations Communications)

(Photo credit – WVU University Relations Communications)

MORGANTOWN, W.VA. –The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory recently awarded West Virginia University (WVU) a project to survey acid mine drainage (AMD) solids to identify the concentration and amount of rare earth elements available in AMD solids.

The new project will sample and analyze AMD solids from 120 AMD treatment sites at coal mines across the northern and central Appalachian coal basins in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. This follows a February 2016 NETL award to WVU to explore the potential to recover and extract rare earth elements from AMD solids, a project that is currently underway.

Acid mine drainage from pre-law coal mines is a major stream pollutant in the Appalachian region. However, when treated to meet current regulatory requirements, it yields solids that have proven enriched in critical rare earth elements.

“We will work with members of the coal industry and state agencies that are engaged in treating AMD to sample their solids” said Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute and principal investigator on the project.

This new effort is in support of the DOE’s ongoing program to recover rare earth elements from coal and coal by-products.

Rare earth elements are vital to the technology industry. These elements have numerous applications and are used in devices such as cell phones, medical equipment and defense applications. Conventional rare earth recovery methods are difficult, expensive and generate large volumes of contaminated waste.
In addition to providing a domestic supply of these critical industrial materials, this approach would incentivize AMD treatment and offset treatment costs while continuing to improve the quality of Appalachian streams.

Appalachian coal mines commonly generate AMD, when sulfide minerals in rock are exposed to air and water. This acid leaches rare earths from coal associated rock where it collects as AMD. Active coal mines are required to treat this AMD, which concentrates and precipitates rare earth elements.

“Together, the rare earths in AMD solids range in value from $45 to $125/kg and our early sampling indicated that AMD solids contain between 0.3 and 1.5 kg of total rare earth elements per ton of AMD solid” said Ziemkiewicz.

Ziemkiewicz, along with co-investigators Xingbo Liu, professor of mechanical engineering, and Aaron Noble, professor of mining engineering, in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources will estimate the volume of acid mine drainage that is available in the northern and central Appalachian coalfields, as well as the purity and amount of rare earth elements that could be recovered. The research team will be assisted by Ben Faulkner, an independent contractor from Princeton, West Virginia, who has extensive experience with acid mine drainage treatment plants across the Appalachian region.

“Acid mine drainage solids are generated at treatment plants, and Ben’s familiarity with these facilities will be a tremendous asset to the project,” said Ziemkiewicz.

CONTACT: Paul Ziemkiewicz, West Virginia Water Research Institute
304.293.6958, Paul.Ziemkiewicz@mail.wvu.edu