What’s in Your Watershed? $100,000 Grant Will Allow Duquesne Crew to Find Out
A grant of $100,000 from Three Rivers Quest, funded through the Colcom Foundation of Pittsburgh, will allow a team from Duquesne University's Center for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) to monitor the water quality of rivers in Allegheny and six other counties.
The CERE group will engage in sampling river water quality in the lower Allegheny River and train local community groups to collect water samples in Jefferson, Clarion, Butler, Armstrong, Westmoreland, Indiana, Cambria and Allegheny counties.
The study is related to land disturbances and industrial discharges, including those from Marcellus shale, as well as sewer outfalls, said Dr. Stan Kabala, associate director of CERE and principal investigator. Working with Kabala on the yearlong project are Dr. Brady Porter, fish expert and associate professor of biological sciences; Dr. John Stolz, CERE director and professor of biological sciences; and Dr. Elisabeth Dakin, post-doctoral researcher and instructor of biological sciences, and Dr. Tetiana Kondratyuk, water quality specialist. The project will also provide a field opportunity for students in the master's of environmental science program.
The group will test water at 17 sites for dissolved oxygen, temperature, acidity, conductivity and chloride to provide an indication of the health of the river at those points. Samples will be collected for additional analyses for chloride, fluoride, bromide, sulfate, nitrate, and phosphate as well as a suite of 24 metals.
"The century-and-a half history of industrialization in Western Pennsylvania has posed challenges for water quality since its inception," Kabala said. "The region's abundant streams and rivers were long used disposal channels for manufacturing and urban wastewater. This overarching use acutely damaged aquatic life in river ecosystems and precluded, for all practical purposes, any other uses such as recreation, fishing, swimming and boating.
"Only in recent decades has water quality recovered to a point where these other uses that add so much to quality of life have become possible again," he said.