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Ohio River Basin Discussions Held at 3RQ Virtual Roundtable

Today, 3RQ held its final Virtual Roundtable series, Presenters came together to discuss projects occurring within the Ohio River Basin. Huge thank you to Jason Heath, John Wenzel, and John Detisch for sharing their time with us!

First, Jason Heath, Director of Technical Programs for the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) presented on the Ohio River Basin Alliance’s Ohio River Basin Restoration Plan which is currently under development. Jason serves as the Chair of Mining Impacts and Co-Chair of Toxics committees for the Restoration Plans development. The Ohio River Basin has 119,017 miles of impaired streams, representing 47% of the total streams in the Ohio River Basin.  Numerous geographic/hydrographic programs receive millions of dollars for restoration efforts while the Ohio River Basin currently does not. The Ohio River Basin Restoration Plan aims to change that. The goal is to get congressional representatives to spearhead funding for the Restoration Plan and get an EPA program office established to work on the initiative. The Restoration Plan is divided into 7 chapters: acid mine drainage (AMD), non-point source (NPS) pollution, toxics, water infrastructure, habitat and species, invasive species, and environmental justice. The Restoration Plan aims to create a unified voice for the Ohio River Basin and its restoration efforts.

Second, John Detisch, from the Harry Enstrom Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, presented on a current project to create an online imagery map of the Monongahela River. Working with 3 Rivers Waterkeeper and PennWest California, they rode the Monongahela River down from Pittsburgh to Pt. Marion, PA taking immersive pictures. The map is to be used by multiple users, from people interested in clean water and healthy ecosystems to recreationists. Numerous layers are to be added to the application, including boat launch sites, local restaurants near the river, abandoned mine land (AML) sites, and water treatment plants.  In the end, the group hopes to be able to create an immersive experience of the Monongahela River from Fairmont, WV to Pt. Marion, PA as well as expand to the rest of the Monongahela River Watershed, including the Tygart Valley, Youghiogheny, and the Cheat Rivers. In the end, John wants people to learn about the wonderful Monongahela River and continue to add to the ever-growing information available within the application. Click here to start exploring!

Lastly, John Wenzel, Executive Director of the Conemaugh Valley Conservancy (CVC) discussed projects that his organization has been involved in. CVC was created in 1994 to promote the conservation and preservation of resources and citizen stewardship through healthy recreation opportunities within the area. The Conemaugh River Basin consists of 1,887 square miles, 150 river miles, and is the largest sub watershed of the Allegheny River. In 1999, CVC created a river conservation plan to deal with the legacy issues of coal mining and steel mills within the area. This plan was since updated in 2017 since evidence of restoration success had been seen! In 1999 only 3 fish species were recorded in the Little Conemaugh River and in 2008, the number increased to 11 fish species present at the same sampling site. In addition to the restoration efforts, CVC is also intent on creating recreation opportunities. They host a 4-day River Sojourn in June and the Penn West Trial Triathlon in October. They created and maintain the Penn West trail, a 17 mile long trail built on the old Main Line Canal. They also purchased the Quemahoning reservoir, along with the Hinckston, Wilmore, South Fork, and Border dams, to ensure the 5,200 acres of land would be preserved for public recreation. They also installed a valve in the Quemahoning Dam to control the outflow, allowing for whitewater rafting on Stonycreek Canyon, boasting 15 Class III and IV rapids.

We would like to thank all the presenters for sharing their knowledge and everyone who has attended our Virtual Roundtable Series this winter! We had wonderful discussions and learned a great deal about the Ohio River Basin. Feel free to go back to past recordings to learn about the 3RQ Mapping Tool and Urban Watersheds! 


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