Posts Tagged ‘3 Rivers QUEST’

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

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Blog, News

Mon RiverbyMelissaONeal_20121113

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 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 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.

In the News – 3RQ Featured on WBOY

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

 

WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

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

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