Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia University’

Area cities addressing ‘BAD’ buildings at their own pace

Written by Jim Davis, The Exponent Telegram, June 21 on . Posted in Media, News

CLARKSBURG — Area cities participating in a statewide program on how to address vacant and run-down properties are pacing themselves, officials say.

Weston, Shinnston and Fairmont are among 17 municipalities in the BAD Buildings Program, an initiative of the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center at West Virginia University.

“Different communities are going at different speeds,” said Luke Elser, project manager.

BAD Buildings is an acronym for Brownfields, Abandoned and Dilapidated Buildings. The program is funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

“The goal of the program is to help communities organize and start to solve abandoned and…

Read the full article on the Exponent Telegram website.

WVWRI Welcomes New Public Relations Coordinator

Written by Kathy Jesperson, NRCCE News on . Posted in Blog, News

Andrew Stacy cropped

Andrew Stacy has joined the West Virginia Water Research Institute as its new public relations coordinator.

Morgantown, WV – Andrew Stacy has joined the West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI) as its new public relations coordinator. WVWRI is a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University (WVU). Stacy is a 2010 graduate of WVU, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations.

In his new role as public relations coordinator, Stacy will coordinate and implement the outreach activities of the WVWRI. He will be responsible for developing communication strategies that enhance WVWRI’s image as well as promote its mission.

Stacy will play a key role in the development and distribution of email news announcements, program brochures, newsletters, fact sheets and website content for WVWRI. He also will assist with all aspects of event planning and implementation from inception to conclusion. Stacy is eager to dive into his new role and looks forward to what a day on the job will bring.

“I most look forward to meeting new people, facing new challenges and spreading the word about the great projects the WVWRI is working on,” said Stacy.

Prior to joining the WVWRI, Stacy worked for the West Virginia Conservation Agency (WVCA), a non-regulatory state agency. There, Stacy worked along with his colleagues to help landowners implement conservation best management practices on their land.

“We provided cost-share programs as an incentive to help landowners (primarily farmers) implement conservation best management practices on their land,” said Stacy. “We also did stream restoration using natural stream design methodologies. During a declared state of emergency, we would be among the first responders to clear out any blockages of streams caused by flooding.

“Working for the WVWRI is similar in that it is in the environmental field,” he continued. “Because of this, there hasn’t been as much of a learning curve. I was able to come in and hit the ground.”

In addition to his work in the environmental field, Stacy also has experience with legislative issues. His work as an intern for the WV Legislative Office of Reference and Information provided him with a thorough understanding of the relationship between federal, state and local agencies. That understanding will be a huge benefit for him in this role with WVU.

While he comes with extensive experience in public relations and environmental issues, WVWRI and WVU are also proud to welcome this veteran to their ranks. Stacy served his country in the U.S. Navy as a second class Petty Officer stationed aboard the USS Chosin (CG-65) out of Pearl Harbor, HI, from 1999-2004.

“Since my time in the Navy, I have always known that whatever I did I wanted to help people,” said Stacy. “I wasn’t always sure how I would help them. That’s why I have stayed in the environmental field. It’s a hot button topic right now and will always be an issue we have to deal with—and it is something that affects everyone.”

In his role with WVWRI, he will be able to fulfill his dream of helping people and providing environmental assistance.

“We are very fortunate to have acquired Mr. Stacy as an addition to our staff,” said Tamara Vandivort, WVWRI associate director. “His experience and education are a great fit to the WVWRI dynamic. With Mr. Stacy on board, we look forward to the opportunity to interact and engage more with water resource stakeholders not only in West Virginia, but nationwide.”

Besides having a job that brings him pride, Stacy also is happy to be back home. “I am thrilled to be back in Morgantown and working for the WVWRI,” he said. “I missed the community and people of this area.”

Contact: Andrew Stacy; WVWRI; (304) 293-7085;

Andrew Stacy;


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

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

Written by Tamara Vandivort 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 ( for more information or visit

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

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

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

‘Water Infrastructure’ Meeting Focus (2014 Mid-Atlantic Regional Water Conference)

Written by Jenni Vincent - The Journal on . Posted in Media, News

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz doesn’t pretend to predict the future, even though the majority of his efforts overseeing West Virginia University’s Water Research Institute projects are proactive and aimed at looking ahead to prevent potential, water-related environmental problems.

Even so, neither Ziemkiewicz nor his staff could have known in advance just how relevant this year’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Water Conference would be – especially after the Jan. 9 chemical leak into the Elk River from a corroded storage tank at Freedom Industries that left approximately 300,000 water customers in a nine county-region (including people in Charleston) without safe tap water for weeks, because it occurred upstream from the state’s largest water treatment facility.

At that time, a citizen reported the problem, which turned out to be the chemical MCHM that’s typically used in coal preparation plants.

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Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley and state Senate majority leader, gives the keynote address at the Panel Discussion for Protecting Water Infrastructure from Energy-Related Incidents on Thursday at the 2014 Mid-Atlantic Regional Water Conference at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown. Other panelists, from left, include Walt Ivy, director, environmental engineering division, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources; John Kennedy, director, office of ecology and infrastructure, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality; and John Sheehan, director of communications, Adirondack Council. — Ron Agnir

Perhaps not too surprisingly, the regional conference – which was held Wednesday and Thursday at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Conservation Training Center – attracted about 130 participants from a variety of disciplines, including academia, government, research organizations and private business.

In addition to West Virginia, several other states were represented by participants and speakers, including New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland, as well as Washington, D.C.

Its theme, “The Future of Mid-Atlantic Infrastructure: Challenges and Solutions,” may have been part of the draw, since the two-day event included sessions on tools for managing stormwater, the water and energy development conundrum and planning for future water supplies, as well as planning and response to climate change and flooding.

“What we hope to do here is highlight how to protect our source waters which are now under threat from a number of sources that can impact the quality of public water supplies – whether they are contaminated for a short period, or perhaps long-term. This is an especially good time for this discussion, since the Elk River incident has focused so much concern on this need,” Ziemkiewicz said.

One of the most popular topics dealt with drinking water safety -diverse discussions ranging from environmental concerns to political pressures, as speakers discussed what has been accomplished and what’s still needed.

Thursday’s keynote speaker, Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, whom Ziemkiewicz praised as having been “extraordinarily engaged” in water issues even before the spill, said he’s glad others are also finally taking an interest in this issue.

A problem of this nature and magnitude could still take place anywhere in the United States, said Unger, adding, “We won’t be judged by the fact this happened in West Virginia, but West Virginia will be judged by what we do about it.”

Unger, who heads the Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources, is credited as the driving force and lead sponsor for Senate Bill 373, a multi-faceted piece of legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. It was unanimously passed by legislators and requires the state Department of Environmental Protection to inventory and inspect above-ground storage tanks.

This type of regulatory action will be even more important as time passes, especially since so many places lack the abundance of water resources found in West Virginia, Unger said.

Already anticipating calls for revisiting the new law when the legislature meets again in January, Unger said it is not perfect and may need some tweaking.

But it represents a good start, one that he hopes will continue to bring people together rather than being divided by different interests or stakeholders.

Toward that end, Unger proposed holding a conference for next year to encourage communication among three specific interests – energy, environmental and agriculture.

“This is important because they are usually fighting over the same resource, fresh water, but it is one they all need to survive,” he said.

Panel members who took the floor after Unger discussed other types of threats to water supplies, including an incident earlier this year that sent 39,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of coal ash pond water into the Dan River from the Duke Energy Dan River Steam Plant site near Eden, North Carolina.

A representative of the Adirondack Environmental Council discussed the catastrophic problems – to both public health and water supplies – that can come from the derailment of railroad cars carrying oil. That’s an increasingly important consideration because of the increased rail shipments of Bakken crude oil from North Dakota in older cars, said communications director John Sheehan.

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