On Wednesday, February 3rd, 3RQ wrapped up its three-part Virtual Roundtable Series. During this session, we heard from four watershed-based groups from West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, each offering a unique perspective and set of priorities as it relates to water quality monitoring and protection.
- The Cheat River watershed, located in Eastern West Virginia, is impacted by 350 acid mine drainage (AMD) seeps. Friends of the Cheat (FOC) has been working to remediate AMD in the watershed since 1995. They are currently accomplishing this by writing watershed based plans for three of their subwatersheds, constructing new treatment systems, and renovating those that aren’t effectively treating the AMD. FOC is also tackling issues new to them, including dam removal, eDNA testing, and sediment and erosion control. According to Madison Ball, Restoration Program Manager, their goal is to recover 90 acres of riparian habitat in just four years to address erosion throughout the watershed.
- Captina Conservancy, located in Eastern Ohio, protects Captina Creek primarily by preserving priority properties within the watershed. Working closely with landowners and partner agencies, the conservancy currently holds 1,700 acres in easements. According to Abbey Hayward, Volunteer, Captina Creek is one of the premier watersheds in Ohio and is home to the state endangered hellbender. Captina Conservancy also utilizes partnerships to accomplish water monitoring throughout the watershed. In addition to their three data logger sites, they also work closely with the Ohio EPA and Soil and Water Conservation District volunteers to collect data.
- Laura Blood, Source Water Protection Manager for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County (MAWC), provided the perspective of source water protection for drinking water. MAWC monitors over 57 sites across the Youghiogheny River and Beaver Run source water protection areas. These sites are monitored regularly for various water quality parameters, including total nitrogen and phosphorus loadings. According to Blood, the 3RQ map was very helpful in seeing what other groups were monitoring in these areas to combine efforts wherever possible. One future direction MAWC is working towards is connecting water quality to land use management. This includes providing information on best management practices to landowners and calculating potential and actual reductions from utilizing these practices over time.
- Eric Harder, Youghiogheny Riverkeeper, does exactly as his title implies. This includes hauling hundreds of tires from the river, monitoring for plastic pollution in the form of nurdles, testing for bacteria, and remaining vigilant for threats to the health of the river and local communities. The Youghiogheny Riverkeeper is housed within Mountain Watershed Association (MWA) which is a member of the Waterkeeper Alliance. MWA primarily protects the Indian Creek watershed, a subwatershed of the Youghiogheny. Together, Harder and MWA are proactive against issues from active and prelaw coal mining, hazardous waste discharges, and fracking activities.