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3RQ Quarterly
July 2016


 
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In the July issue:
- Treating AMD in Deckers Creek
- New program participants
- Duquesne student research project
- Upcoming Events
- Thank you!

Treating AMD in Deckers Creek

by Nick Revetta, Project Manager, Friends of Deckers Creek
This has been a busy and exciting summer for us so far at Friends of Deckers Creek.  By the end of 2016, we will have completed construction on two new passive acid mine drainage (AMD) treatment systems that will clean acidic mine water before it has a chance to enter Deckers Creek. 

The first project, which is nearing completion, targets the abandoned Ingrand Mine in Preston County.  The water discharging from this site has an average pH of 3.1 and carries 8.8 lbs./day of iron and 8.4 lbs./day of aluminum into Kanes Creek and Deckers Creek.  We hope to reduce these contaminant loadings by 90%, drastically improving the water as it flows through town.  This project would not be possible if not for the help of our community members and donors.  Specifically, we would like to thank everyone that donated to our emergency land purchase last year – without their help, we would not have been able to construct this project.  

Once the Ingrand Mine project is complete, we will begin construction on our second project of the year, an upgrade to the Valley Point #12 Passive Treatment System.  This project, also located in Preston County, will be a renovation and expansion of one of our older systems.  Friends of Deckers Creek originally constructed the Valley Point #12 project in 2008.  Unfortunately, due to mine seepage that we could not collect at the time, as well as overall wear-and-tear on the system itself, this site needs updated and enlarged to collect the addition seepage.  As a result, we are gearing up to renovate this old project and plan to remove 6.3 lbs./day of iron, 3.5 lbs./day of aluminum, while also drastically improving the pH at this site.
 

3RQ Welcomes New Program Participants

In November, the Potter County Conservation District Board of Directors voted to join the Three Rivers QUEST program. The Potter County Conservation District was organized in 1945 as the state’s first such entity. Their mission is to provide and administer programs, plans, education information, and technical assistance for conservation practices that protect and conserve the natural resources of Potter County.
The Upper Allegheny Watershed Association (UAWA) also joined the Three Rivers QUEST program in November. UAWA’s mission is to establish a locally driven comprehensive watershed management program that will preserve, protect and improve the Upper Allegheny Watershed for present and future generations.
We would like thank both organizations for their participation in this program and we look forward to working with you!

Duquesne Graduate Student's Research Focuses on 3RQ Data


In May 2014, Emily Mashuda began working with the 3RQ program as a water sampler on the Lower Allegheny River Watershed. This year, Mashuda completed her master's degree in Environmental Science and Management from Duquesne University. For her thesis, Mashuda looked at the water quality of the Allegheny River and its tributaries using sampling data from 3RQ and EPA.

"I compared the data collected through 3RQ to historic data from the EPA STORET to monitor the changes in some of the major chemical parameters, such as Aluminum and Sulfate, which are indicators of Abandoned Mine Drainage pollution," said Mashuda. "Comparing water quality between sites identifies which streams are significantly impacted and then I took a look at the major pollution contributors at those sites. Utilizing chemical ratios, such as Br:Cl ratios and Sr:Cl/Mg:Cl ratios, I was able to distinguish between abandoned mine drainage and produced water from the process of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction."

Mashuda said that the work she has done for her thesis has allowed her to explore aquatic ecosystems in a way she had not before.

"This topic has given me the opportunity to explore a bigger picture concept in aquatic ecosystems that I had not focused on previously," said Mashuda. "Water quality is so important because it effects the entire ecosystem and human use of that ecosystem, so studying and understanding the major pollution contributors in our area seemed like an important opportunity for me to pursue."

"I have specifically looked at the influence of the Kiskiminetas system on the Allegheny River, which has significant impacts on the Allegheny, such as elevating the Aluminum and Sulfate levels," said Mashuda.

In comparison to historical data, Mashuda saw great decreases in the parameters associated with Abandoned Mine Drainage. In the past, levels of Aluminum and Sulfate greatly exceeded the current regulations for these parameters, having a significant effect on the biological system. 

“Levels today, at most sites, are much lower than the set limits in the state, which is a great improvement,” said Mashuda. As stricter regulations have been put into place, and will continue to be put into place as new data shows a need, the water quality will continue to improve to prevent harm to aquatic ecosystems and to ensure water is safe for drinking."

Mashuda found that chloride concentrations in the Kiskiminetas system saw increases compared to historical baseline data. 
“Elevated levels of chloride, bromide, and strontium were observed, with greatest values occurring at Blacklick Creek following the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility discharge.  The data suggested an improvement in water quality from a reduction in abandoned mine drainage, but increases in other water quality parameters that could potentially reverse the overall water quality improvements made within the Kiskiminetas River system and the Allegheny River over the past fifty years.”

Upcoming Events

REACH Roundtable

August 8, 2016
10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Duquesne University

Would you like to hear more about what others are doing in your area? Do you have multiple water quality studies going on within your own organization?   The 3RQ program invites you to join us to discuss water quality monitoring in the Ohio River basin.  The establishment of the REACH Roundtable will serve to further communication regarding water quality data collection through various organizations and provide opportunity for collaboration.

If you or someone from your program would like to attend, please RSVP by July 22nd to Derek Springston at charles.springston@mail.wvu.edu
 

Thank You for your participation and continued data collection!

The 3RQ involves organized data collection throughout the major tributaries and mainstem of the Allegheny, Monongahela and Ohio through our Partners at Duquesne University, Wheeling Jesuit University, Iron Furnace Chapter of Trout Unlimited and West Virginia Water Research Institute. 

Forty two sites are sampled monthly for a suite of Total Dissolved Solids related parameters.  Through assistance from the 3RQ Program, volunteer water monitoring groups have trained 55 volunteers; collected over 10,000 field data sets (i.e. conductivity) at 163 sites and have deployed continuous data loggers at 52 sites – recording over 87,000 data records (most loggers are recording at 20 minute intervals). 

The 3RQ database serves to provide data management for users; online data map is used for data dissemination to the public.
 
If you have information you would like included in the 3RQ newsletter
please forward your request to Andrew Stacy at
astacy@mail.wvu.edu

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West Virginia Water Research Institute - 3 Rivers QUEST
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