Posts Tagged ‘water quality monitoring’

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 Eight water systems in southern West Virginia are “intractable,” meaning the systems are no longer maintained and the water is no longer treated, leaving residents vulnerable.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

Researchers at KU, WVU to strengthen water-stewardship practices for U.S. energy production

Written by Tracy Novak, National Research Center for Coal and Energy on . Posted in News, Press Release

Every year in the U.S., a whopping 20 billion barrels of water are generated as a byproduct of domestic oil and gas recovery, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Safe and environmentally responsible management of this “produced water” is important to energy companies, farmers, ecosystems and everyday people whose drinking water comes from associated aquifers.

Now, a joint research effort founded by the University of Kansas and West Virginia University — funded by a new $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation — aims to develop cutting-edge strategies for better management, treatment, protection and recovery of produced water. The scientists behind the work hope to establish a permanent center focused on research-proven best practices for handling produced water nationwide.

“Obviously, we need energy,” said Edward Peltier, KU associate professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, who is the primary investigator of the new project. “We use energy resources every day, and we’ll continue to use them. That means the better job we do producing energy in an efficient, clean manner — and not affecting other resources like water quality — the better off we are.”

Paul Ziemkiewicz, co-PI of the new grant and director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at WVU, pointed out that until now there has been no nationally coordinated research effort to address issues tied to produced water.

“NSF’s support will create a national center for technology development as well as training and outreach to recruit a new generation of specialists to address this challenge,” he said.

All oil and gas production, whether by conventional or hydraulic fracturing methods, generates produced water. Its characteristics vary among the nation’s petroleum basins.

“It’s a combination of returned water injected into the ground as part of oil and gas recovery, as well as formation water, trapped inside the rock along with the petroleum — how much water comes out depends on the local geology. Kansas wells produce more water than oil,” Peltier said.

Ziemkiewicz added that Appalachian shale gas wells are net water consumers.

“So far, new well completions have absorbed most of our produced water, but as new completions decline, we need to find new ways to manage this water,” he said.

Across the country, this water has high salt content and other contaminants.

As a result, the researchers said there are issues with reusing water directly or discharging it on the surface. Currently, the leading form of disposal of produced water is reinjection into the subsurface. The practice has gained notoriety in some regions because of its association with earthquakes. Indeed, Kansas now puts regulatory curbs on deep-well re-injection of produced water.

The research under the new NSF grant will develop practices to improve the safety of deep-well injection and develop economical methods for treating produced water so that it can be reused.

“We want to come up with management and treatment techniques so we can reuse this water,” Peltier said. “It needs to be treated before it can be reused. This project is focused on ways to treat the water, to manage the production process so we have less wastewater to deal with and looking at the impact of water in ecosystems when it’s released. How much do we treat it so it doesn’t have harmful effects?”

Differences in the geology of plains Kansas and mountainous West Virginia mean the joint investigation into produced water at KU and WVU will have national application.

“We’ll initially focus on the central plains and Appalachian basins,” Peltier said. “We think there will broader applicability to the work we do that will apply to other petroleum basins.”

Moreover, the research assets of the partner institutions will complement each other. For instance, WVU operates the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory, a long-term field site supported by the DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory. WVU researchers led by Ziemkiewicz are studying water used in hydraulic fracturing through the late stages of the produced water cycle.

Similarly, KU has field resources already established that will sustain the partnership.

“KU has the Tertiary Oil Recovery Program that has worked with oil producers in Kansas developing various recovery strategies and large-scale field tests,” Peltier said. “The goal here is both KU and WVU have overlap in energy and production and water treatment and protection. So we want to establish a long-term relationship, so even at end of this grant we’ll have additional cross-disciplinary and cross-university projects extending beyond the length of the grant.”

Students at both universities will benefit from new programs created by the grant, which the researchers said would help train a new generation of experts in sustainable oil and gas recovery practices.

“We’ll have undergraduate students cross-training each other’s universities and departments to strengthen research ties and match students with instructors at both schools, and we’ll have junior faculty going back and forth to establish partners they can work with in the lab, in the field and at the well in West Virginia,” said Peltier.

Programs involved in the new NSF grant include KU’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, Tertiary Oil Recovery Program and Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering. In addition to the Water Research Institute, the WVU team includes Lance Lin, civil and environmental engineering Harry Finklea, chemistry Joe Donovan, geology Todd Petty and Eric Merriam of wildlife and fisheries, and Shawn Grushecky of the Energy Land Management Program.

-WVU-

CONTACT: Tracy Novak, National Research Center for Coal and Energy
304.293.6928, Tracy.Novak@mail.wvu.edu

WVWRI Seeks to Hire Environmental Technician

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Employment, News

The West Virginia University Research Corporation (WVURC) seeks to hire an Environmental Technician at the West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI) at WVU. The purpose of this position is to perform water chemistry-related field and laboratory research activities. It will also provide technical support by implementing land reclamation projects within the WVWRI through collaboration with state and federal agencies, watershed organizations, university researchers, and external contractors.

A bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, or a natural resources related field, and 2 – 4 years of experience in water quality research are required. An equivalent combination of education and experience will be considered. A valid driver’s license is required.

Competitive salary and benefits package offered. For a complete job description and to apply for this position, please visit the job listing on the WVURC website.

Additional WVU testing confirms acceptable levels of total trihalomethane in drinking water in Southwestern Pennsylvania

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

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Additional testing by the West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI) shows acceptable levels of total trihalomethane (THM) in drinking water at Beth Center Elementary and High Schools in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Those and nine other locations throughout Washington and Greene counties were sampled in February with similar results.

Last November, WVWRI tested samples collected at Beth Center Elementary and Beth Center High School that showed high THM levels.

Total THMs are regulated in drinking water supplied by water authorities. They form when water is chlorinated to control microbial pathogens. Chlorine reacts with methane in the water which allows the halogens-chloride and bromide to attach and form THM. There are four THMs with varying amounts of chloride and bromide.

The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act regulates the amount of total THM delivered to customers to 80 micrograms/liter when averaged over a year. Pennsylvania regulations require sampling for THM every three months and compliance is based on the average of the four most recent quarterly samples. So, while the November readings were reason for concern, further sampling was needed to determine whether an immediate threat existed.

The WVWRI, with support from the Colcom Foundation, conducted a one-month long effort to determine THM levels in five water systems along the Monongahela River from Brownsville, Pennsylvania to the West Virginia state line. Included were: Pennsylvania American Water at Brownsville, Charleroi, Tri-County, Southwestern Pa. and East Dunkard Water Authorities.

Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the WVWRI at West Virginia University said four weekly samples were taken in February 2016 in the Monongahela River upstream of the water system intakes and at 11 locations throughout the distribution networks including the Beth Center Elementary and High Schools, where last November’s high readings were found. Both schools are served by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority, which according to state records is in compliance with total THM standards. Flow in the Monongahela River during that period ranged from about 5,000 to 37,000 cfs, averaging a little over 20,000 cfs.

Ziemkiewicz commented that the flow was “high but not unusual for winter on the Mon.”

“There’s always a concern that pollutants are concentrated during low flows and diluted during high flows, and during the November 2015 sampling flow was 2,400 cfs. Serious low flow on the upper Mon is below 1,000 cfs.”

Ziemkiewicz pointed out that the February sampling results did not find any total THM exceedances.

“We were concerned that the high November readings at the Beth Center schools might indicate a trend of increasing THM and we had a couple readings [taken in the Tri-County Water Authority system] in the 70 microgram/liter range in February but none in excess of the 80 microgram limit,” said Ziemkiewicz. “This suggests seasonal exceedances but when averaged out over the year would indicate compliance with water quality standards.”

“That is consistent with PADEP’s findings for the Southwestern Pa. Water Authority which services the Beth Center schools. November’s high total THM levels coincided with late summer/autumn low flows, when water treatment systems are likely to use higher rates of chlorination.”

-WVWRI-

Contact: Paul Ziemkiewicz, Ph.D., Director, West Virginia Water Research Institute
304.293.6958, pziemkie@wvu.edu

as/3/22/16

Updated: 3/31/16