The West Virginia Water Research Institute, a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University, awarded a total of $40,000 to local watershed organizations through its 3 Rivers QUEST (Quality Useful Environmental Study Teams) May 6.

The funding will help support volunteer water quality monitoring and data collection in headwater streams and smaller tributaries of the Monongahela River as part of the larger regional monitoring program.

In total, 10 watershed groups received 3 Rivers QUEST grant funds. The groups include Friends of Blackwater, Friends of the Cheat, Friends of Deckers Creek, Friends of Deep Creek Lake, Guardians of the West Fork, Harry Enstrom Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, Peters Creek Watershed Association, Save the Tygart Watershed Association, Whiteday Creek Watershed Association and the Youghiogheny River Watershed Association. The check presentation took place at the NRCCE building on WVU’s Evansdale campus.

“The idea that we can move this whole process up into the headwaters, with your help, will be an extremely exciting interface between science and policy but at the grassroots level,” said Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute. Ziemkiewicz gave an informal presentation to attendees on the status of monitoring efforts in the Monongahela River Basin, stressing the importance of volunteer monitoring. “It can really influence the world around you, which is what I think we are all trying to do.”

The West Virginia Water Research Institute began the strategic QUEST program in July 2009 after concerns arose over high concentrations of total dissolved solids in the Monongahela River that exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s secondary drinking water standard. Since then, Water Research staff has conducted sampling and monitoring at 17 locations throughout the Monongahela River Basin every two weeks.

After successful implementation of the original monitoring program, a $700,000 grant from the Colcom Foundation – a Pittsburgh-based private foundation dedicated to fostering a sustainable environment – allowed for a geographic expansion of the QUEST program to include the Allegheny and upper Ohio River basins. The 3 Rivers QUEST program, administered and managed by the Water Research Institute, now includes regional research partners at Duquesne University (Southern Allegheny River Region), Wheeling Jesuit University (Upper Ohio River Region), and the Iron Furnace Chapter of Trout Unlimited (Northern Allegheny River Region).

In total, $140,000 in funding ($30,000-$40,000 in each QUEST region) from the 3 Rivers QUEST program will support more than 350 volunteers and help them collect field, data logger and/or laboratory analysis from more than 300 sites within the Upper Ohio River Basin.

Founded in 1967, the Water Research Institute is funded through the U.S. Geological Survey. It serves as a statewide vehicle for performing research related to water issues.

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: Glenn Waldron, WV Water Research Institute

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