In the News – 3RQ Featured on WBOY

Written by Andrew Clay, Monongalia and Preston County Reporter on . Posted in Media, News

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MORGANTOWN – A more than half a million dollar grant will fund continued water monitoring in the Monongahela River.

The Pittsburgh based Colcom Foundation awarded WVU’s Water Research Institute (WVWRI) $508,000 grant to continue water testing through the 3 Rivers QUEST, Quality Useful Environmental Study Team.

In 2009, the WVWRI began testing the river since after acid mine drainage threatened the water supply.

The program has grown to include the entire Upper Ohio River Basin, an area covering more than 25,000 square miles and includes the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny rivers.

“I’d like to see this continue to expand. There isn’t another program like this in the United States. For example, any citizen can go online and see what the trends look like,” said WVWRI Director Paul Ziemkiewicz.

The program tests water in 54 locations, and uses hundreds of volunteers to test water at other smaller tributaries associated with the basin.

The results are then posted online for the public to see.

WVWRI research partners include Wheeling Jesuit University, Duquesne University, and the Iron Furnace Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

In 2011, Colcom, a foundation dedicated to preserving and creating a sustainable habitat donated more than $1.2 million to WVWRI.

Learn more about the 3 Rivers QUEST Program on its web site.

Regional Water Quality Monitoring Program Receives $508,000 Grant; Allows Researchers to Identify Long Term Trends in Water Quality

Written by WVUToday on . Posted in Blog, News

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –The West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI), a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University, has been awarded a $508,000 grant from the Colcom Foundation to continue a regional water quality monitoring and reporting program called 3 Rivers QUEST – or Quality Useful Environmental Study Teams.

The Colcom Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based private foundation dedicated to fostering a sustainable environment, first funded the WVWRI initiated program in 2011 and has contributed over $1.2 million dollars towards the overall effort.

The continuation of the 3 Rivers QUEST program, now in its second year, will allow researchers to identify long term trends in water quality in the river basins for which the program is named after – Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio.

Led by WVWRI, the program 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.

“It’s unrealistic and unfeasible for us (WVWRI) to undertake a monitoring program for an entire region,” said Melissa O’Neal, 3 Rivers QUEST program manager.  “The funding from Colcom has allowed us to expand the geographic scope of the program by bringing on our research partners and allowed us to create a mini-grant program to fund volunteer organizations interested in participating in a truly regional water quality monitoring effort.”

In total, the project monitors and reports water quality information for an area encompassing 25,000 square miles and covering portions of five states.  The resultant data is then made available to the public via the project’s website,www.3riversquest.org.

“Between the WVWRI and our 3 Rivers QUEST research partners, there are 54 locations from which we collect grab samples and conduct full chemical analysis,” explained O’Neal.  “Watershed groups involved with the program monitor another 300 plus sites.”

Dr. Benjamin Stout, a professor of biology at Wheeling Jesuit University responsible for implementing the 3 Rivers QUEST monitoring model in the Upper Ohio River Region, believes that the unique two-pronged approach to water quality monitoring benefits all involved.

“3RQ provides a unique opportunity for academic scientists to engage in community-based participatory research – that is, water quality issues identified by our community partners helps to prioritize our research efforts,” said Stout.  “It also provides community members with direct access to academic researchers who have a wide range of water quality expertise.  With this partnership, we can respond rapidly to help solve local environmental issues in a timely fashion.”

While the coordinated monitoring effort between scientists and citizens for an entire region could be considered a feat unto itself, 3 Rivers QUEST research partners agree that perhaps the greatest benefit of the program is the ability to analyze long-term water quality trends.

“People want to know how changes in the region’s energy industry will affect water quality in their streams and rivers,” said Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of WVWRI.   “Thanks to the Colcom Foundation, we will have the ability to look at and analyze long-term trends in water quality and ultimately aid regulatory personnel in making sound policy decisions.”

Dr. John Stolz, director of Duquesne University’s Center for Environmental Research and Education and Dr. Bruce Dickson, president of the Iron Furnace Chapter of Trout Unlimited – both monitoring the Allegheny River Basin, agreed with Ziemkiewicz.

“The increase in shale gas development and recent changes in coal fired power plant regulations make our three rivers as vulnerable as ever to complex types of pollution,” said Stolz.  “Continued monitoring of the water quality in the basin will create a more reliable database that accounts for seasonal and episodic fluctuation and will allow us to identify the larger causes of pollution.”

Dickson added that the continuation of the program is, “especially important in light of the rapid expansion of deep shale development and a very active conventional oil and gas industry.”

For more information about the 3 Rivers QUEST program and to see detailed water quality information from throughout the Upper Ohio Region, 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.

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.

About the West Virginia University Foundation

The Colcom grant was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University.  The $750 million comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2015. For more on the campaign, visit: www.astateofminds.com

2013 WV Brownfields Conference Featured on WBOY Channel 12

Written by Krista Baker, General Assignment Reporter (WBOY Channel 12) on . Posted in Media

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MORGANTOWN – Brownfields include residential, commercial, and industrial properties where redevelopment may be complicated by the potential presence of a hazardous substance.

The West Virginia Brownfields Conference in Morgantown deals with the issue of making brownfields suitable for development. It brings people together from across the state to show off projects that have been a success in the past, as examples for current projects to also be affective.

The conference moves to different areas of the state each year. Having the 8th Annual Conference in Morgantown gives local communities, development professionals and service providers great networking opportunities.

“What happens when we have it in Morgantown, we actually get to attract some different university professors we’ve been collaborating with, we’ve had some students come, also we pull some from the Pittsburgh market,” said Patrick Kirby, the director of the Northern Brownfields Assistance Center. “From developers, with the steel towns in the northern part of the state, and the eastern part of the state. As well as some orchards and other former and industrial stuff out there.”

The conference features a number of topics, including building demolition and environmental threats. Federal Agencies will also discuss upcoming plans, like the new initiatives brought up by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture.

“They’re looking to address reuse of some old surface mine lands for agricultural purposes,” said George Carico, the Director of the Southern Brownfields Assistance Center, which handles the southern counties in West Virginia. “So, we’re trying to play a role there to help bring land holders and some different companies together with them to look at the agricultural industry that’s here in West Virginia.”

Projects are also presented from different cities around the state. They even set up a fun atmosphere, “Game Time,” to decide which projects have the most potential.

“They get to see all the successes that we are having. But also for those ones that don’t have successes yet, they get to learn from the others and get those connections,” said Kirby. “So, that’s really the networking that it involved in this always turns out to pay huge dividends to the communities that are here. “

The group will meet again Friday to discuss legislature and also have other activities. The event is open to people who are interested to hear the discussions, if they stop at the registration table at the Waterfront Place Hotel.