On October 1, 27 volunteer water quality monitors from across West Virginia and Virginia gathered in Elkins, WV for the 2nd Monongahela National Forest Watershed Snapshot Day.
Watershed Snapshot Day is an event of the WV/VA Water Quality Monitoring Program, Trout Unlimited's water quality monitoring program implemented in WV in partnership with WV Rivers Coalition.
Teams of volunteers were assigned monitoring routes throughout the National Forest to collect water quality data. Locations for monitoring were strategically chosen for access, ecological value, and their potential to be impacted by shale gas. Of particular concern is the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 550-mile long multi-state pipeline, if constructed as currently proposed, would include 27 stream crossings on 26 different streams within and adjacent to the northern Monongahela Forest.
We collected 102 samples on 51 streams during Snapshot Day. Right now, we are working with our lab partners, Penn State University and Eastern Mennonite University, to have the samples analyzed. Each sample will be tested for conductivity, pH, turbidity, Barium, Strontium and Methane. Barium, Strontium and Methane are found naturally in the environment, but coupled with shale gas development, or when found in elevated levels, they can be indicators of pollution. It’s important to understand if, and at what levels, these chemicals are found in streams in the National Forest prior to development.
“The Mon National Forest contains some of the most pristine waters in the state. By collecting baseline water quality data, we are helping to protect them from development and preserve them for future generations.” Said Autumn Bryson, WV Rivers Program Director.
Beyond data collection, Snapshot Day provided an opportunity for the WV/VA Water Quality Monitoring Program’s volunteers to meet each other. “Our volunteers often work alone or in a small team with just one or two other people. It’s wonderful to get them together, meeting other people who are just as committed to clean water as they are. It helps folks see how the data they collect fits into the bigger water quality picture.” Said Kathleen Tyner, Outreach Manager at WV Rivers Coalition.
Stay tuned to wvrivers.org to learn about upcoming opportunities to become a volunteer water quality monitor. We’ll be scheduling trainings to monitor water quality along proposed natural gas pipeline routes this Fall and Winter.