Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia University’

WVU teams up with the Boy Scouts to develop STEM program at Summit Bechtel Reserve

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

Coordinated by WVWRI, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will introduce scouts and their adult leaders to the environmental STEM field, particularly the aquatic sciences, while using the site as an ecology observatory and laboratory.

Coordinated by WVWRI, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will introduce scouts and their adult leaders to the environmental STEM field, particularly the aquatic sciences, while using the site as an ecology observatory and laboratory.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia Water Research Institute Director Paul Ziemkiewicz announced today a project to establish an environmental science, technology, engineering, and math education and research program with the Boy Scouts of America’s Bechtel Summit Reserve near Oak Hill, West Virginia.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences will introduce scouts and their adult leaders to the environmental STEM field, particularly the aquatic sciences, while using the site as an ecology observatory and laboratory.

The team will include Todd Petty, professor of wildlife and fisheries resources, Jim Anderson, professor of wildlife and fisheries resources, Nicolas Zegre, associate professor of forest hydrology, and Richard Thomas, professor of biology.

Through the program, scouts will earn merit badges while learning about ecology, biology, water science, wildlife and wetlands. Scouts will receive hands-on training through taking measurements, entering data and plotting simple graphs to see the results.

Fred King, vice president for research at WVU, is a strong supporter of the program. “This is a great opportunity to introduce a new generation of leaders to the environmental sciences, West Virginia and West Virginia University. They will find that we have a beautiful state and an outstanding natural laboratory to pursue meaningful studies while receiving hands on guidance from our leading environmental faculty.”

The reserve is the BSA’s newest high-adventure camp and is adjacent to the New River Gorge National River and more than 13 miles of the property border the park, providing access to more than 70,000 acres of managed, Appalachian highlands wilderness beyond the summit property. Up to 50,000 scouts are expected to be on site for major events such as the National Scout Jamboree, which typically takes place in July, with about 20,000 cycling through the site every two weeks during the remainder of the summer.

Federal funding of this project is provided through the U.S. Geological Survey’s section 104b program. The USGS awards 104b grants to State Water Research Institutes that have been established in each of the 50 states, three U.S. territories and the District of Columbia under the provisions of the Water Resources Research Act of 1984. The West Virginia Water Research Institute, a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University, serves as a statewide vehicle for performing research related to water issues. WVWRI is the premiere water research center in West Virginia and, within selected fields, an international leader.

-WVWRI-

as03/21/16

Water Resources Conference Comes to Lewis County

Written by Alex Hines, Lewis, Gilmer, Barbour and Randolph County Reporter on . Posted in Media, News

ROANOKE – The Water Resources Conference of the Virginias began on Monday, Oct. 5 at Stonewall Resort.  The annual meeting brought together the West Virginia Water Research Institute at WVU and the Virginia Water Resources Research Center at Virginia Tech. The two organizations meet each year to share research with people in academics, industry and politics in an effort to keep water resources safe and usable.

“There needs to be some type of dialogue to translate the research to something that policymakers and industry can understand, and I think that’s one part of it,” said WVWRI’s Andrew Stacy.

The two organizations are funded by the U.S. Geological Survey, and the conference is one of their major requirements each year, spreading the research to those interested. Organizers in both states said the joint conference makes it much easier to pass information along to those interested.

“We also share a lot of similar water challenges, with regard to energy extraction, coal mining, natural gas drilling, and so many of the issues in both Virginia and West Virginia are identical,” said VWRRC Director Stephen Schoenholtz.

Read the full article on the WBOY website.

Unprecedented: West Virginia University and Ohio State are raising the bar for shale drilling research

Written by Sarah Tincher, Energy Reporter, The State Journal on . Posted in Media, News

A team of researchers with West Virginia University and Ohio State University are getting up close and personal with the Northeast Natural Energy drilling site in Morgantown to study various impacts of shale drilling, and project leaders are calling it an unprecedented opportunity to drive change in the oil and gas industry.

“It’s been very difficult to get all of the kinds of information on the process that we really need to do the good science; to match up the field data with the process data,” said Michael McCawley, interim chair of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at West Virginia University. “It’s just extremely important to be able to gather this kind of information because it’s very expensive to do it. And to have the opportunity and to be in on that opportunity, it’s really groundbreaking and really important for science and for the people that science serves, which is the rest of the world, really.

“More transparency, better accuracy, better precision,” McCawley said. “That’s the name of the game in science.”

‘Absolutely critical’

The team of geoscientists, hydrologists, engineers, ecologists, social scientists and public health professionals began work on the study earlier in the summer through a five-year, $11 million agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

“I think (the partnership) is absolutely critical,” said Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of West Virginia Water Research Institute. “Here you have a company that’s operating that’s allowing us access to their site. You have a federal agency, the U.S. DOE, that’s providing the funding to make all this happen, and then you have two major research universities.

“And between them we have a tremendous amount of capability.”

Read the entire article on The State Journal website.

Additional WVU testing confirms acceptable levels of radioactivity in drinking water at Clyde Mine

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in Blog, News

Treated affluent from Clyde Mine discharging into Tenmile Creek, Greene County, PA.

Treated affluent from Clyde Mine discharging into Tenmile Creek, Greene County, PA.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Additional testing by the West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI) at Clyde Mine on Tenmile Creek shows acceptable radium levels in drinking water.

Tenmile Creek is the primary watershed within Greene County Pennsylvania, passing through Waynesburg before joining the Monongahela River in Clarksville, Pennsylvania.

“We looked hard and just could not find any evidence of harmful radiation levels,” said Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the WVWRI.

Methodology

WVWRI sampled the Clyde Mine discharge on Tenmile Creek six times over a two-week period beginning in late July to make sure the results were representative. That data showed that the highest minimum detectable concentration (MDC) of alpha radiation was 2.95 pCi/L, while the drinking water limit is 5 pCi/L. The reported values averaged 0.74 pCi/L.

In April 2014, sSampling done by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) in April 2014 indicated high levels of radium in discharges to Tenmile Creek from the abandoned Clyde Mine and coal refuse piles farther upstream near Waynesburg and another at the Cumberland Mine on Whiteley Creek.

“The radium numbers were high but not consistent with the much lower gross alpha radiation readings,” said Ziemkiewicz. “Radium is an alpha emitter and the gross alpha reading should be the sum of all of the alpha emitters.

Ziemkiewicz said there were to other problems with the data.

“It wasn’t clear from the 2014 PADEP data which analytical method was used to determine radium concentrations, and the MDC were not provided,” he said. “MDC tells you the lowest data value that can be reported with confidence. For example, if the MDC is 100 all you can say is that the actual value is somewhere between zero and 100.”

Ziemkiewicz explained that if the reading is 50 and the MDC is 100 you still can only say that the actual value is somewhere between zero and 100.

“This is extremely important to remember when evaluating radiochemical results,” he said. “When we saw these inconsistencies we decided to resample and reanalyze using approved EPA methods. We guessed that PADEP determined radium by gamma spectroscopy.”

According to Ziemkiewicz, that method is used mainly as a screening tool for solid wastes.
“It’s cheap but not very precise when used for water samples,” said Ziemkiewicz. “It may be the best method for undiluted Marcellus flowback water where interfering ions like strontium and barium measure in the thousands of milligrams per liter. But the Clyde mine discharge had zero barium and only 6.6 milligrams per liter of strontium, so interference is not an issue. That’s why we used the more precise radiochemistry methods.”

In June of this year, WVWRI sampled the same sites that PADEP had sampled in 2014 and sent the water samples to PACE Analytical Services in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, for analysis. PACE is a state-certified radiochemistry lab. The radium results came in well below EPA drinking water levels.

The only parameter that was close to the drinking water limit was gross alpha, which was 13.4 pCi/L. The drinking water limit is 15 pCi/L. However, the total dissolved solids were high in this sample. So in addition to EPA method 900.0, WVWRI asked PACE to use EPA method 7110C, which is recommended for high-total dissolved solids water.

Providing research data for residents

Funded by the Colcom Foundation, the WVWRI’s Three Rivers QUEST (3RQ) REACH program provided the means to initiate this targeted study for radiologicals on Tenmile Creek in response to residents’ concerns.

The 3RQ program brings together academic researchers with grassroots organizations by collecting field water-quality data and information from local water monitoring groups that are in tune with the health of their local watersheds.

“Several watershed organizations have been monitoring along Tenmile Creek. When their field instruments suggest something unusual we can respond with more detailed chemical analysis. Testing for radiologicals is expensive and beyond the means of most citizens,” said Melissa O’Neal, 3RQ project manager. “Results from this targeted study provide reliable data to local residents who are concerned about the quality of their streams.”

The 3RQ program has been monitoring the mouth of Tenmile Creek since 2009 for a suite of chemical parameters. Results from WVWRI and its partner grassroots water monitoring organizations is shared with the public on the program’s website, 3RiversQUEST.org.

CONTACT: Andrew Stacy, West Virginia Water Research Institute
304-293-7085; ASTACY@mail.wvu.edu