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Voinovich School leading the abandoned coal mine drainage investigation of area streams

Angela Keane February 13, 2014

Willis Creek Picture














Jen Bowman, senior environmental project manager at the Ohio University Voinovich School, has paired up with Gary Conley, research supervisor for University’s Air Quality Center at the Institute for Sustainable Energy & the Environment, to begin looking at the health of Wills Creek and White Eyes Creek in Coshocton and Muskingum Counties. The Voinovich School has partnered with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) to engage local watershed groups to conduct a water quality investigation of abandoned coal mine drainage of these streams, analyze the data, and provide a summary report of impacts from acid mine drainage in these streams.

As lead on the project, Bowman expressed that the work will contribute a lot to the forthcoming restoration plan. “Our job is to evaluate the sources of acids that are coming from abandoned coal mines. We will collect water quality data, and produce maps that show chemical loadings from abandoned coal mine sources. This information will be utilized by MWCD and ODNR to put a plan together of what would be recommended for restoration. The ultimate goal of the research is to collect the data that can be used in a treatment plan so streams can be restored and provide cleaner water in Ohio,” Bowman said.

Nora Sullivan, environmental studies graduate student, is working with Bowman to help with the data collection, analysis and entry. Sullivan previously assisted with Rural Action’s watershed activities as an AmeriCorps member for two years, so she has the experience to dive right into this project. For this project, Sullivan is using a phone “app” that records all of her data entries while in the field and loads it into a database for her to access later. Sullivan is thrilled to be a part of a project that will broaden her experience with research and technology. Sullivan explains. “The whole process is a learning process, and it will help me in my future because you gain something in every experience.”

Once Bowman and Conley present their findings, the MWCD will develop a viable and cost-effective restoration plan. Bowman stressed that to restore streams, community members need to be a willing partner.   “Restoration on private property requires permission from landowners.  Willing community members working with local agency partners, are essential to conducting stream restoration.”

More information about the project will be available later this year at www.ohio.edu/ce3.