Appalachian Watershed Research Group

September 28, 2016

The Appalachian Watershed Research Group was initiated in 2001 by a group of Ohio University faculty and staff from the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. The group provides interdisciplinary, high-quality, applications-based watershed research for the benefit of the region. These research projects are designed to provide students with innovative learning opportunities while also solving real-world problems.

Listen here as Shannon Stewart from Rural Action Ohio Stream Restore Corps talks with guests about the Appalachian Ohio Clean Water Initiative in a WOUB interview.

Core competencies of this group include stream water chemistry monitoring, fish and invertebrate assessment, biomonitoring using periphyton, sediment studies, stream attainment analyses, load/concentration calculations, and the linking of data to decision-making tools through the use of reports, charts, maps and graphs. The group also provides related training for watershed officials, wildlife professionals, and local government entities. Most activities are customized, in collaboration with stakeholders, to meet their needs. The group strives to include students in the project work such as: water quality sampling, watershed characterization, biomonitoring, and environmental education. These projects allow students an experience that demonstrates teamwork, builds leadership skills, and integrates teaching and learning.

The Appalachian Watershed Research Group has a history of providing technical assistance to watershed groups throughout Appalachia Ohio, primarily focusing on the detrimental impact to streams from abandoned coal mines. Watershed groups in this area have benefited from Ohio University student, faculty, and Voinovich School staff research, water quality data collection and analysis leading to acid mine drainage abatement and treatment (AMDAT) plans, geographical information systems (GIS) mapping, development and creation of water quality database systems, creation of watershed websites, and watershed coordination.

Examples of Appalachian Research Watershed Group projects include:

  • The Raccoon Creek Watershed Project. The Raccoon Creek Watershed Coordinator position is sponsored by Ohio University’s Voinovich School as part of its Energy and Environment Program. As of 2015, there are 17 successfully completed acid mine drainage reclamation and treatment projects in the Raccoon Creek Watershed. These projects, made possible through state and federal partnerships, have resulted in the biological recovery of 42 miles of stream. These streams were once nearly devoid of life, as a result of acid mine drainage from historic coal mining; they now support healthy, productive, and diverse biological communities. The Raccoon Creek Watershed Project is responsible for project planning and maintenance, chemical and biological stream monitoring, as well as environmental education and community outreach.

For more information about the Raccoon Creek Watershed Project, please visit www.raccooncreek.org

  • The Annual Stream Health Report. The Annual Stream Health Report for Nonpoint Source (NPS) pollution from acid mine drainage was created by the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University in 2005 and funded by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resources Management (ODNR-MRM).  This project was developed to address the targets set forth for Abandoned Mine Drainage in the State of Ohio’s Nonpoint Source (NPS) Management Plan. Abandoned Mine Drainage is one of the six NPS pollutants listed as a key issue to address in Ohio to improve water quality. ODNR-DMRM, watershed partners, and university researchers continue to monitor the effects of acid mine drainage and reclamation in the region. This report reflects the works of this partnership at the federal, state, and local level working together to improve water quality in the Appalachian coal region of Ohio.

As a result of the NPS Monitoring Project, an online reporting system, www.watersheddata.com, has been created to track environmental changes in five watersheds: Raccoon Creek, Monday Creek, Sunday Creek, Huff Run, and Leading Creek. These five watersheds represent the location of active AMD reclamation projects. Chemical water quality and biological data trends have been evaluated at the project level, watershed level, and collectively to monitor the changes in water quality as a result of AMD reclamation. The website provides a repository of information related to acid mine drainage reclamation and water quality including reports of: AMD reclamation projects and watersheds water quality trends. All water quality data can be viewed, entered, edited, mapped, and downloaded for each watershed listed above.

For more information about the Annual Stream Health Reporting System, please visit www.watersheddata.com.

For more information contact: Jennifer Bowman, bowmanj2@ohio.edu, 740-597-3101