WV Water Research Institute Now Monitoring Ohio and Allegheny Rivers

by Duane Nichols on October 28, 2012

The West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University, with the help of the Colcom Foundation, is expanding its successful Monongahela River water quality monitoring program to include the upper Ohio and Allegheny rivers.

The Institute developed the Quality Useful Environmental Study Teams program – known as QUEST – in response to growing concern over total dissolved solids – or TDS – in the Monongahela River in 2009. The newly expanded program is now called Three Rivers QUEST, or 3RQ.

A $700,000 grant from the Colcom Foundation, a Pittsburgh-based private foundation dedicated to fostering a sustainable environment, will allow for a geographic expansion of the program to include the Allegheny and upper Ohio River basins.

The first step in expanding the program was identifying partners to implement the monitoring program in the new geographical regions. Using a Request for Proposals process, Wheeling Jesuit University was selected to monitor the water quality of the upper Ohio River areas from Pittsburgh, Pa. downstream to near Parkersburg, W.Va. The monitoring will include several locations on the main stem of the Ohio River as well as major tributaries in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Duquesne University in Pittsburgh will monitor the lower Allegheny River and its key tributaries while the Iron Furnace Chapter of Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited will monitor the upper portions of the Allegheny River and its tributaries.

The new program partners will be officially recognized and welcomed to the QUEST team at the annual State Water Research Conference on Tuesday and Wednesday (Oct. 30 and 31) at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown. The success of the QUEST program will be highlighted at this year’s event and presentations by Institute Director Paul Ziemkiewicz and QUEST Program Manager Melissa O’Neal will cover the topic in greater detail. To view the agenda and to register for this year’s event, visit www.wvwaterconference.org/2012.

The QUEST program includes a regimented, bi-weekly monitoring effort. While in the field, the Institute’s technicians record field data and collect water samples that undergo a rigorous chemical analysis at a state certified laboratory. In addition to the research, local watershed organizations participate in the monitoring program by collecting field data from various locations in the headwater streams of the rivers’ tributaries.

The QUEST program supports participating watershed organizations by providing access to monitoring equipment, chemical analysis of water samples and the use of an innovative data management tool that allows volunteers to enter their data via the internet into a secure, self-managed database. All the data collected is displayed on the program’s interactive web site (www.3riversquest.com) where citizens, scientists, federal and state agencies and industry have access to the water quality information and can search by location or date.

Founded in 1967, the West Virginia Water Research Institute is funded through the U.S. Geological Survey. It serves as a statewide vehicle for performing research related to water issues. It serves as the premier water research center in West Virginia and, within selected fields, is an international leader.

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.

The grant from the Colcom Foundation 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.

CONTACT: Dave Saville, WV Water Research Institute
304.293.7066, Dave.Saville@mail.wvu.edu

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