Project Listing

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Brownfields/Economic Development

BF 46 - Downtown Appalachia

Project Name: Downtown Appalachia
Project No.: BF 46
Principle Investigator: Patrick Kirby
Funding Source(s): Benedum Foundation
Funding Amount: $235,000
Funding Duration: 12/31/17

Project Description:
The Downtown Appalachia program will generate needed micro-level data packages that illustrate rural downtown market needs and feasibility analysis on existing strategically located downtown buildings. This community and property data will allow for business and developer recruitment to meet the specific needs and goals of rural communities, rather than waiting for specific inquiries from external stakeholders and investors. The result of this intentional approach to downtown revitalization will put currently overlooked communities back on the radar of developers, investors, and entrepreneurs from inside and outside of West Virginia.
The Downtown Appalachia program will leverage community capacity and resources created or identified through the following existing programs:
• BAD Buildings Program (Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center)
• W.Va. Redevelopment Collaborative & WVRC FAST Track (NBAC)
• HubCAP (West Virginia Community Development Hub)
• Turn This Town Around (West Virginia Community Development Hub)
• Blueprint Communities (West Virginia Community Development Hub)
• Main Street West Virginia & ON TRAC (West Virginia Development Office)

BF 53 - STOP BAD Buildings Program

Project Name: STOP BAD Buildings
Project No.: BF 53
Principle Investigator: Patrick Kirby
Project Manager: Luke Elser
Funding Source(s): Benedum Foundation
Funding Amount: $150,000
Funding Duration: 6/30/17

Project Description:
The Strategic Teardown of Properties (STOP) BAD Buildings Program provides support to implement redevelopment plans for the demolition of priority gateway structures to demonstrate progress in West Virginia's fight against blight. STOP BAD Buildings will benefit communities throughout West Virginia that are impacted by blighted buildings. The program will target local governments and non-profit organizations dedicated to community revitalization and economic development. The program will reach out to neighborhood organizations and other citiizen stakeholder groups as partners with the local government entities.

BF 61 - Property Rescue Initiative

Project Name: PRI Technical Assistance
Project No.: BF 61
Principle Investigator: Patrick Kirby
Funding Source(s): WV Community Development Hub
Funding Amount: $81,600
Funding Duration:12/31/17

Project Description:
The Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center is working with the WV Community Development Hub to provide technical assistance to the West Virginia Housing Development Fund through regional workshop development/implementation to support the HDF in meeting the technical assistance needs of the HDF’s Property Rescue Initiative. The technical assistance will result in deliverables of six regional education workshops and up to 10 communities with the capacity and information to successfully apply for and implement a PRI loan.

Acid Mine Drainage Remediation

ETD 30 - Recovery of Rare Earth Elements From Coal Mine Drainage

Funding Agency: USDOE - NETL
Project Duration: 3/1/16 - 8/31/17
Project Amount: $950,534
Principal Investigator: Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D.
Project Manager: Jennifer Hause
Co-Investigators: Xingbo Liu, Ph.D.; Aaron Noble, Ph.D.

Project Description:
This project will explore acid mine drainage (AMD) sludge as a domestic source of Rare Earth Elements (REEs). REEs occur across a wide variety of geological formations but, with rare exceptions, at concentrations too low to permit economic recovery. In response, the conventional REE industry has sought deposits where natural hydrothermal process resulted in commercially attractive REE concentration. These deposits are extremely uncommon, particularly in the United States.

The overall objectives of Phase I of this project are (1) to develop a cost-effective and environmentally benign process to treat and recover REEs from sludges generated during treatment of acidic coal mine drainage (AMD). And (2) to prepare for Phase II of the project, in which the project team will scale up the process to prototyping level and conduct thorough techno-economic analysis.

ETD 39 - Rare Earth Elements Identification and Characterization in AMD Solids

Funding Agency: USDOE - NETL
Project Duration: 10/1/16 - 4/30/18
Project Amount: $400,000
Principal Investigator: Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D.
Project Manager: Jennifer Hause
Co-Investigators: Xingbo Liu, Ph.D.; Aaron Noble, Ph.D.

Project Description:
The goal of this project is to survey acid mine drainage (AMD) solids to identify the concentration and amount of rare earth elements available in AMD solids. Researchers 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. They 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. This effort is in support of the DOE’s ongoing program to recover rare earth elements from coal and coal by-products.


WV 338 - Herods Run

Project Name: Herods Run
Project No.: WV 338
Principle Investigator: Jason Fillhart
Funding Source(s): West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection & Office of Surface Mining
Funding Amount: $360,165
Funding Duration: 9/1/14 – 12/31/17

Project Description:
Herods Run, a small tributary located to the east of Alexander in Upshur County, West Virginia, is a tributary to the Buckhannon River. The proposed site consists of acidic mine drainage seeps that collect into a channel and drain into an existing storm water/sediment pond and then back into a channel where it joins the Buckhannon River approximately 2.3 miles downstream.

Project objectives include the proposal, development, and installation of a passive treatment system to treat the mine seeps and improve the overall water quality of Herods Run and ultimately the Buckhannon River.

WV 342 - Martin Creek Dosing

Project Name: Martin Creek Dosing: A Watershed Scale Approach to AMD Remediation
Project No.: WV 342
Principle Investigator: Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D.
Funding Source(s): West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Office of Surface Mining
Funding Amount: $638,000
Funding Duration: 6/30/15 – 12/31/16
Project Publications: WV 342 Handout (pdf)

Project Description:
Approximately 3.4 stream miles in the Muddy Creek drainage are impaired by acid mine drainage (AMD). The majority of the acid load comes from the Martin Creek subwatershed, including Fickey Run and Glade Run. According to the Lower Cheat River Watershed Based Plan (WBP), Fickey Run is impaired by two abandoned mine land (AML) and two bond forfeiture sites, while Glade Run is impaired by five AML and five bond forfeiture sites. Both Fickey Run and Glade Run flow into Martin Creek, which receives AMD from two AML sites before it joins Muddy Creek 3.2 miles above its confluence with the Cheat River.

Approximately 0.7 miles above Martin Creek, Muddy Creek receives AMD from several AML sources originating from the Dream Mountain Ranch. Muddy Creek supports a quality cold water fishery upstream of Dream Mountain.

A study completed by the National Mine Land Reclamation Center (NMLRC) for the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) Office of Special Reclamation (OSR) demonstrated significant cost savings and projected increased environmental benefit by applying in-stream lime dosers at strategic locations within the stream system rather than using lime dosers to treat individual sources (Ziemkiewicz 2006). By utilizing portable dosers and placing them at strategic locations within the Martin Creek watershed the West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI) proposes to identify optimal locations for permanent installation of in-stream dosers. Water quality samples will be collected on a weekly basis at locations upstream of the dosers and at tributary mouths to monitor water quality conditions in response to the dosers.

The purpose of this study is to provide the WVDEP OSR with data to guide future management decisions on the placement of dosers to treat Martin Creek at a watershed level.

WV 346 - Buckhannon River Passive Treatment Installation: Swamp Run #2

Funding Agency: WVDEP
Project Duration: 9/30/18
Project Amount: $308,856
Principal Investigator: Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D.
Project Manager: Jason Fillhart
Project Description:

Swamp Run is a small tributary to the Buckhannon River, located south of Alton in Upshur County, West Virginia. The Swamp Run #2 site consists of two seeps emanating from capped spoil located above their origin. The seeps confluence with one another, enter into Swamp Run and then into the Buckhannon River approximately 1.4 miles downstream. The proposed passive system will utilize limestone leach beds, open limestone channel and wetlands as a means to treat the water emanating from the seeps.

The objective of this reclamation is to further facilitate the removal of AMD contaminates entering the Buckhannon River; thus, improving both water quality and stream habitat.

WV 349 - Ecological and Socioeconomic Benefits of AMD Remediation

Funding Agency: USDOI
Project Duration: 9/30/18
Project Amount: $199,960
Principal Investigator: Mike Strager, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof., WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources & Design
Co-PI(s): Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D., Todd Petty, Ph.D., Eric Merriam, Ph.D.

Project Description:
There remains considerable uncertainty as to the long-term ecological and societal benefits of efforts to restore acid mine drainage (AMD)-impacted systems, particularly for projects occurring across larger spatial (i.e., watershed) scales. This represents a critical knowledge gap because successful restoration requires an adaptive management framework wherein remediation activities are first prioritized and later altered based on projected and observed ecological response and socioeconomic outcomes. The specific objectives of the project are to:
1) characterize long-term ecological response to two state-of-the-art watershed-scale AMD treatment efforts;
2) quantify temporal changes in success of each restoration effort; and
3) develop a remediation prioritization framework for AMD-impacted systems that simultaneously maximizes ecological and socioeconomic benefits.


WRI 223 - 2017 Mid-Atlantic Water Resources Conference

Project Name: 2017 Mid-Atlantic Water Resources Conference
Project No.: WRI 223
Principle Investigator: Tamara Vandivort
Funding Agency(s): U.S. Geological Survey 104b Program
Funding Amount:
Funding Duration: 3/1/17 – 2/29/18

Project Description:
For this year’s Water Conference we have joined with the Water Research Institutes in Delaware, District of Columbia, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia to co-host the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Water Resources Conference. The conference will take place October 12 & 13, 2017 at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. The theme for this year’s Conference is Water Research: Building Knowledge and Innovative Solutions.

This regional event combines exceptional educational presentations with outstanding opportunities for university faculty and students, policy makers, industry, environmental consultants, state and federal agencies, watershed groups and the public to share in the latest information, technologies and research relating to the Mid-Atlantic's water resources. This Conference provides excellent networking opportunities as well as a productive forum to discuss pertinent water-based issues.

2017 Mid-Atlantic Water Resources Conference website:

Environmental Education

WRI 216 - Environmental STEM Research Program: West Virginia University and Boy Scouts of America Bechtel Summit

Project Name: Environmental STEM Research Program: WVU/BSA Bechtel Summit
Project No.: WRI 216
Funding Agency: U.S. Geological Survey
Project Duration: 3/1/16 - 2/28/18
Project Amount: $271,240
Principal Investigator: Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D.
Co-Investigators: Todd Petty, Ph.D.; Richard Thomas, Ph.D.; Jim Anderson, Ph.D.; Nicolas Pierre Zegre, Ph.D.
Project Manager: Tamara Vandivort 
Project Description:
The program, being developed in cooperation with the Boy Scouts of America, will introduce scouts and their adult leaders to the environmental STEM field, particularly the aquatic sciences while using the Summit Bechtel site as an ecology observatory and laboratory. Through the program, scouts will earn merit badges while learning about ecology, biology, water quality, wildlife, and wetlands. Scouts will have hands-on training through taking measurements, entering data, and plotting simple graphs to see the results.

WRI 224 - Phase 2 Environmental STEM Research Program: 2017 National Scout Jamboree

Project Name: Phase 2 - Environmental STEM Research Program: 2017 National Scout Jamboree
Project No.: WRI 224
Funding Agency: U.S. Geological Survey
Project Duration: 3/1/17 - 2/28/18
Project Amount: $173,659
Principal Investigator: Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D.
Project Manager: Tamara Vandivort
Project Description:
Phase 2 will expand on the initial STEM Research curriculum by developing an activity book and connecting scouts to both water quality monitoring and technology transfer through the use of a continuous monitor and multi-parameter test kits. This project will also implement the E-STEM curriculum at the Summit Bechtel Reserve for the 2017 National Scout Jamboree, which takes place July 19-28, 2017.

We will develop an E-STEM Activity Book, establish a water monitoring component to the E-STEM research program and enhance the scope of the current research project to provide a more streamlined curriculum for the 2017 National Scout Jamboree. During the project year (March 1, 2016 – February 28, 2018), an on-site water monitoring network will be set up, and scouts and their leaders will be engaged at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree.

The program will engage scouts in activities that are interactive, hands-on, and educational. The project will align with STEM by allowing scouts to: discover water quality science, understand how technology helps us learn about the environment, understand the engineering behind the tools that are used to monitor the environment and integrate mathematics by analyzing data and graphs. Scouts at the 2017 Jamboree will complete a certain number of activities listed in the E-STEM activity book, and upon successful completion will be awarded a program patch. The main objective of this project is to make scouts aware of the E-STEM field. Additional funding sources will be targeted during the year for financial support for additional years to enhance the E-STEM curriculum and install additional instrumentation.

Gas Well Development

ETD 26 - Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Labratory (MSEEL)

Project Name: MSEEL
Project No.: ETD 26
Principle Investigator: Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D., Director
Project Manager: Jennifer Hause
Funding Source(s):
U.S. Department of Energy - NETL
Funding Amount:
Funding Duration: 09/30/17

Project Description:
West Virginia University (WVU) has formed a consortium of university researchers from WVU and Ohio State University, and industrial partners (Northeast Natural Energy, LLC is the operator and Schlumberger is a major technology provider) to develop a research program focused on a field site and dedicated laboratory in the Marcellus unconventional production region of north-central West Virginia. The Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory (MSEEL) provides a unique opportunity to undertake field and laboratory and societal research over a five year timeframe as budgeted, and the potential for extension to additional years. The site at the Morgantown Industrial Park (MIP) in Monongalia County, West Virginia is conveniently located with excellent access from university and government research facilities. The area surrounding the proposed test site has a multiple decade’s long groundwater and soil baseline and existing monitoring. Specialized water (flowback and produced), solids (cuttings), air, noise and traffic monitoring have been undertaken to develop a comprehensive environmental baseline, and impact assessment.

The MSEEL site provides a well-documented baseline of reservoir and environmental and societal characterization. Access to multiple Marcellus wells separated by sufficient time to analyze data will allow for the collection of samples and data, and the testing and demonstration of advanced technologies. The project’s phased approach allows for flexibility to identify and incorporate new, cost-effective technology and science focused on increasing recovery efficiency, while reducing environmental and societal impacts. For additional information, please visit the project website

Presentations: Appalachian Basin Technology Workshop Presentation (MSEEL) 7.20.16 – Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz

ETD 31 - Support for the International Forum on Unconventional Gas Sustainability and the Environment (INFUSE)

Project Name: INFUSE
Project No.: ETD 31
Principle Investigator: Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D., Director
Project Manager: Tamara Vandivort
Funding Source: USDOState
Funding Amount:
Funding Duration: 9/30/17

Project Description:
West Virginia University (WVU) will work to coordinate international outreach and education related to the International Forum on Unconventional Gas Sustainability and the Environment (INFUSE) to be developed via its Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory (MSEEL) for foreign officials from countries seeking to sustainably develop unconventional gas resources. The overall goal is to increase international understanding of how proper drilling, hydraulic fracturing and water management can reduce environmental risks and lead to sustainable resource development. Beneficiary government officials will better understand the unique safety, environmental, and social challenges associated with the development of unconventional resources and best practices to address those challenges. WVU will use the MSEEL and its work on shale gas in the Appalachian basin and globally as a base to develop and undertake short courses, shale gas site visits, briefings, reports, and an online global database of unconventional resource activities for government and non-government officials in targeted foreign countries.


GEO 32 - Alpine Lake Erosion Study

Project Name: Alpine Lake Erosion Study
Project No.: GEO 32
Principle Investigator: Leslie Hopkinson
Funding Source(s): Alpine Lake HOA
Funding Amount: $14,994
Funding Duration: 12/31/16

Project Description:
The purpose of this project is to provide the Alpine Lake Homeowners Association with a stability and erosion assessment of Alpine Lake. The lake is essential for the recreational activities at Alpine Lake resort; however, shoreline erosion is beginning to affect infrastructure critical to recreation. Erosion hazard mapping can help designing and planning protection efforts. In collaboration with the WVU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, we will perform rapid stability assessments to identify erosion hazard levels of the shoreline and assess erosion rates at high hazard locations.


ETD 46 - Development of Critical Capabilities in Advanced Mineral Extraction

Project Name: Development of Critical Capabilities in Advanced Mineral Extraction
Project No.: ETD 46
Principle Investigator(s): Paul Ziemkiewicz, Harry Finklea, Aaron Noble, Lian-Shin Lin, Xingbo Liu
Funding Source(s): O'Brien Energy Research Fund (WVU Energy Institute)
Funding Amount: $74,621
Funding Duration: 01/01/17 - 6/30/17

Project Description:
Five interconnected tasks are proposed for this project. Each will develop team work, refine new capability and generate data that will strengthen future proposals. The first task is the development of an extraction screening procedure. A bench level screening procedure will be developed to predict the REE enrichment resulting from combining naturally occurring acid sources with REE-enriched, industrial waste products.

The second task will be Lithium (Li) extraction and recovery. For each separation technology developed by the project team, Dr. Noble’s group will develop a preliminary techno-economic analysis process model. The model will identify the primary operational cost factors and compare these to the market value of the relevant critical material products.

The third task is the development of advanced electrochemical metal extraction systems. The objective of this project is to leverage current work on treatment of produced water into methods for concentrating selected metal ions (Li+, Co2+, rare earth elements) from sources with high salt content (produced water, AMD and extracts of fly ash).

The fourth task is rare earth element and lithium fractionation and concentration from acid mine drainage and brine solutions. A hybrid method consisting of selective precipitation and biological leaching will be tested to fractionate and concentrate REEs and lithium from AMD. The method is designed based on our previous work on AMD treatment and recovery of these targeted elements.

The fifth task is to further improve selectivity of solvent extraction to separate REEs from major metal ions effectively. This task will also develop an improved leaching process to improve the yield rates of REE, and to avoid possible problems during extraction step recovery and refining of rare earth elements. Focus will be provided through monthly meetings of the team around development of the ‘generic’ proposal.

WV 340 - Geomorph Landform Project in Appalachia

Project Name: Geomorph Landform Project in Appalachia
Project No.: WV 340
Principle Investigator: Jennifer Hause
Funding Source(s): Office of Surface Mining
Funding Amount: $200,000
Funding Duration: 9/1/14 – 5/31/19

Project Description:
Through this project, we will work with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to design, implement, and monitor a small-scale geomorphic landform reclamation project. The Office of Special Reclamation (OSR) is part of the Division of Land Restoration within the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP). Special Reclamations is mandated by the State of West Virginia to protect public health, safety, and property by reclaiming and treating water on all bond forfeited coal mining permits since August 1977 in an expeditious and cost effective manner.

If proven successful through the cost and water quality performance evaluation, OSR, and thus the citizens of the State, benefit from the innovative GLD model through reduced environmental impact; improved water quality; improved flood control; and reduced land reclamation and water liabilities to the Special Reclamation Fund.

Technical Support

WRI 188 - National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR) Website Support

Project Name: Website Support
Project No.: WRI 188
Principle Investigator: Megan Kruger
Funding Source(s): National Institutes for Water Resources (NIWR)
Funding Amount: $15,522
Funding Duration: 7/1/17 – 6/30/18

Project Description
This project supports the National Institutes for Water Resources public website ( The WVWRI provides website content management support for this national organization.

The National Institutes for Water Resources comprises 54 water resources research institutes nationwide. A Water Resources Research Institute is located in each State, the District of Colombia, and the U.S. Territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The Guam Institute also serves the Federated States of Micronesia and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The Hawaii Institute also serves American Samoa.

Visit the NIWR website at


ETD 33 - Investigation of MgO Slaking Kinetics

Project Name: Investigation of MgO Slaking Kinetics
Project No.: ETD 33
Principle Investigator(s): Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D.
Funding Source(s): COSIA
Funding Amount: $34,583
Funding Duration: 7/1/16 - 6/30/17

Project Description:
The objective of this study is to determine magnesium oxide (MgO) slaking kinetics in deionized water at different temperatures.

ETD 37 - Improving Water Management, Treatment, Recovery in Oil and Gas

Project Name: Improving Water Management, Treatment, Recovery in Oil and Gas
Project No.: ETD 37
Co-Principle Investigator(s): Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D.
Funding Source(s): National Science Foundation (EPSCoR)
Funding Amount: $496,470
Funding Duration: 8/1/16 - 7/31/17

Project Description:
The goal of this project is to develop practices to improve the safety of deep-well injection and develop economical methods for treating produced water so that it can be reused. This is a joint research effort with the University of Kansas to develop cutting-edge strategies for better management, treatment, protection and recovery of produced water.


Water Quality Monitoring

WRI 133 - TDS Working Group

Project Title: TDS Working Group
Project No.: WRI-133
Principle Investigator: Paul Ziemkiewicz
Funding Source(s): Coal Industry
Funding Amount: $296,000.00
Project Duration: 1/1/2010 – TBD

Project Description
The Coal Industry has successfully addressed a number of water quality issues in the past, most notably, suspended solids, acidity and soluble metals associated with mine drainage. However, as the industry moves into the deepest portions of the Pittsburgh Basin, it faces a new water quality challenge: total dissolved solids (TDS). These are ions such as sodium, chloride and sulfate. They do not precipitate until the concentrations become extremely high. For example, sodium sulfate and sodium chloride solutions only saturate at concentrations of 11% and 35% respectively (110,000 and 350,000 mg/L). On the other hand, discharges from most surface mines and shallower deep mines are generally dominated by calcium and sulfate. Their solubility is controlled by gypsum, a much less soluble salt. Its solubility is only about 0.21% or 2,100 mg/L. It is important to note that none of major ions that comprise TDS either bio-accumulate or are toxic at reasonable concentrations.

The fall 2008 high TDS event in the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania and a fish kill in Dunkard Creek focused attention on managing TDS from AMD treatment plants in the upper Monongahela River basin. Typically, TDS concentrations in the Monongahela River have exceeded 500 mg/L only when flow drops below 2,000 cfs. The likelihood of TDS exceeding 500 mg/L increases as flows decrease to extremely low levels e.g. 300 cfs. While TDS had been trending upward in the River in recent years, coincident with increased gas development in the region, the extent to which the coal vs. gas industries contribute to TDS loadings has been uncertain. It is likely, however, that since coal’s AMD treatment plants are regulated under the Clean Water Act that they will receive the greatest regulatory attention. One of the few ways to segregate the relative contribution of the two energy industries is by characterizing the TDS loads that are produced by mine drainage treatment plants under a range of operating conditions. Preliminary estimates indicate that if all of the plants along the upper Monongahela River were running at full capacity with the maximum [TDS] then they would generate TDS at a rate of about 500,000 tpy. At normal operating conditions TDS production appears to be less than half that amount. By comparison, the TDS loading in the Monongahela River, at Masontown PA has ranged from 300,000 to 1,400,000 tpy since July 09.

Preliminary studies have shown that when flow in the Monongahela River exceeds 5,000 cfs it has substantial capacity to assimilate TDS. This represents a challenge and an opportunity. The opportunity is to develop the management tools that will maintain safe water levels in mines while controlling TDS levels in the Monongahela River and streams like Dunkard Creek. Unlike many water quality parameters, modeling TDS is simple. For example, data collected indicate maximum TDS levels in lower Dunkard around 5,000 mg/L at low flow (< 30 cfs) and at a typical TDS production from the major AMD plants of about 150,000 tons per year. If that loading rate was produced only when the flow in Dunkard Creek exceeded 120 cfs, and pumped mine discharges were the only source of TDS, then the TDS concentration in Dunkard Creek could not exceed 1,250 mg/L at Bobtown PA. This approach could also indicate whether and to what extent non-mine discharges were contributing to TDS loadings in the creek. Combined with continuing TDS monitoring in the Monongahela River, the unaccounted for TDS could be identified by subtraction.

Proposed Solutions
There appear to be three options for managing TDS:

  1. Manage discharges to maintain target TDS levels in the receiving creek and the Monongahela River. This will require:
    • Accurate and current assessments of TDS loads generated by each AMD treatment plant
    • Accurate and current assessments of TDS loadings in the receiving creeks and the Monongahela River
    • Assimilative capacities of the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers and their major tributaries
    • Alternatives evaluation
    • Development of target TDS levels for rivers and streams
    • Transparency and accountability
  2. NPDES based end of pipe treatment standards
  3. 3. TMDLs for TDS (optimistically this could be the outcome of an industry led process and be the outcome of option 1; if driven by conventional regulatory thinking it would likely morph into option 2).

The Objective
The objective of the TDS working group is to thoroughly explore option 1 above, to develop an efficient strategy for protecting the region’s streams and rivers while sustaining the economic viability of the industry. This may ultimately take the form of an industry led TMDL.

WRI 164 - Upper Ohio River Basin QUEST (3RQ)

Project Name: Upper Ohio River Basin QUEST (3RQ)
Project No.: WRI 164
Principle Investigator: Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D., Director
Project Manager: Melissa O'Neal
Funding Source(s): Colcom Foundation
Funding Amount: $699,990
Funding Duration: 5/22/12 – 12/31/17

Project Description
3 Rivers 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:

3 Rivers 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 bi-weekly 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.

3 Rivers 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 and individuals that contribute to the collection of important water quality data. QUEST Volunteer Organizations collect, at a minimum, data on conductivity, pH and water temperature. These QUEST Volunteer Organizations help contribute to the data set and help provide a better overall picture of the health of three rivers basins (Monongahela, Allegheny, and Upper Ohio).

Geographical Scope - The 3 Rivers QUEST project covers 3 river basins: Allegheny, Monongahela, and Upper Ohio.

Project Significance

Data collected through the 3 Rivers QUEST program is critical in collecting baseline data in the Upper Ohio Region. Between the 3RQ Research Partners, 54 sites are monitored on a bi-weekly basis at the mainstems of the rivers (Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio) and at the mouths of major tributaries. 3RQ Volunteer Organizations monitor over 300 sites at the many smaller tributaries, headwater streams and even unnamed streams and tributaries to help provide a better overview of the health of the entire region.

Resultant data collected through the 3RQ program is made available on a data map on the project’s website, The monitoring and dissemination of data provides researchers, state and federal agencies, industries, and citizens with critical information regarding the health of waters in the Upper Ohio River Basin.

Project Website:


Project Name: 3RQ REACH
Project No.: WRI 212
Principle Investigator: Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D., Director
Project Manager: Melissa O'Neal
Funding Source(s): Colcom Foundation
Funding Amount: $350,000
Funding Duration: 7/1/15 – 12/31/17

Project Description
Through 3 Rivers QUEST REACH, or Research Enhancing Awareness via Community Hydrology, each 3RQ partner will appoint a 3RQ REACH 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 current 3RQ program, allows researchers to identify long-term trends in the three river basins for which the program takes its name – Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio. This grant allows the program to continue and expand its focus.

Watershed Restoration

WV 345 - Lambert Run Watershed Based Plan

Project Name: Lambert Run Watershed Based Plan
Project No.: WV 345
Principle Investigator: Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D.
Co-Investigator: Jason Fillhart
Funding Source(s): West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
Funding Amount: $98,235
Funding Duration: 3/23/16 – 9/30/18

Project Description:
The main focus of this project is to re-write the 2003 Lambert Run Watershed Based Plan. The plan will establish up-to-date pollutant loads entering Lambert Run and assess the efficiency of six AMD treatment systems installed in the watershed. New goals will then be established to meet TMDL requirements with the ultimate goal of Lambert Run being removed from the 303(d) list of impaired streams in West Virginia.