Following increased shale gas development and concerns over potential impacts on water quality, Trout Unlimited’s West Virginia and Virginia Water Quality Monitoring Project, a program developed by TU that is being implemented in West Virginia by TU and the West Virginia Rivers Coalition, is seeking to engage volunteers to monitor streams in their area. The program, free to participants, trains volunteers to detect and alert authorities to potential pollution events as well as to collect baseline data in watersheds with the potential to experience shale gas development in the future.
This statewide project, initiated last year, is designed to protect coldwater streams in the shale gas region of Central Appalachia by early identification of water quality problems and characterization of baseline watershed health. Sensitive coldwater streams that are home to unique aquatic life such as the eastern brook trout, the only trout native to West Virginia, are prioritized for monitoring. “Brook trout require cold, clean water to survive. A decline in brook trout populations can be an early indication that the health of the aquatic ecosystem as a whole is at risk,” said Jake Lemon, eastern shale gas monitoring coordinator for Trout Unlimited.
To date the volunteer monitoring program has trained 84 participants in West Virginia who monitor 101 sites on 88 different streams throughout the state. “The volunteer monitors are often the first line of defense in detecting potential pollution,” said Kathleen Tyner, outreach manager at West Virginia Rivers Coalition.
The next training for interested volunteers will be on Saturday, Dec. 6 at the Summersville Public Library. Call 304-637-7201 to RSVP or to learn more.
The West Virginia volunteer monitoring program is made possible by funding from the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.