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Virtual Seminar Series

2023 - 2024 Dual Winter Webinar Series

Webinar Series Dates 2023-2024

WVWRI Seminar Series

The West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI) will host a Virtual Seminar Series from December 2023 through February 2024 to highlight current water research and remediation projects. Each session will feature three presentations pertaining to a particular theme followed by Q&A. Presenters will consist of various WVU researchers and specialists affiliated with WVWRI. Sessions will be held on the third Thursday of each month from 10:00 - 11:00 am. Register online to get the Zoom link to access any occurrence in this webinar series.

Land and Water Reclamation | 12/21/23 10:00-11:00 am

  • Brownfields and Stream Restoration in the Tygart River Watershed
    • Brownfields Redevelopment - Ray Moeller, Economic Redevelopment Specialist, NBAC
    • North Portal of Roaring Creek: Passive Treatment Project – Jason Fillhart, Watershed Project Manager, WRI
  • Potential Uses for Abandoned Mine Lands – Jacob Morris, Graduate Student Researcher, WRI
  • Watch Recording

USGS-funded Water Research Projects | 1/18/24 10:00-11:00 am

  • Implementing a Stream Flow Monitoring Program to Inform Management and Conservation Decisions in the Monongahela River Watershed – Melissa Shafer, Water Resources Technician, WRI; and Mike Strager, PhD, Professor of Resources Economics, WVU
  • Evaluation of Voluntary Discharge Management System for Reducing High-TDS Events in the Monongahela River Basin – Rachel Spirnak, Water Resources Specialist, WRI
  • Evaluation of the Contribution of Microbial Biofilms in Drinking Water Distribution Systems to Formation of Disinfection Byproducts – Emily Garner, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, WVU
  • Watch Recording

Watershed-Scale Restoration | 2/15/24 10:00-11:00 am

  • The Watershed-Scale Restoration Approach - Nate DePriest, Water Resources Engineer, WRI

  • T&T Treatment Facility: Muddy Creek - Greg Phillips, Environmental Resource Program Manager, West Virginia Office of Special Reclamation
  • Rare Earth Element & Critical Material Extraction from AMD – Eliza Siefert, Water Resources Technician, WRI

3RQ Roundtable Series

3RQ will host a three-part virtual series to learn about the research, conservation, and education-based efforts being undertaken by 3RQ member organizations and 3RQ partner researchers in the Upper Ohio River Basin from December 2023 - February 2024. A special focus for this year's series will be placed on current GAPS assistance projects. Sessions will be held on the first Thursday of each month from December through February at 10 am following the topics outlined below. Register online now to get a Zoom link to join any occurrence in this webinar series.

2024 GAPS Program Information Session | 12/7/23 10:00 - 11:00 am
  • This year's GAPS program will be open to small colleges and universities working alongside watershed organizations or community groups collecting water quality data or planning for future stream restoration projects. All are welcome to attend this information session to learn more about the program as well as 3RQ's free WATERS database and mapping tools. If you are unable to make this session, a recording will be available here within a week of the event. You are also encouraged to reach out to if you have any questions about the GAPS program.
  • Watch Recording
  • Download Slides
Erosion and Stormwater Issues | 1/4/24 10:00 - 11:00 am

  • GAPS Spotlight: Houston Park Erosion Monitoring - Virginia McAnulty, Upper Chartiers Creek Watershed Association
  • GAPS Spotlight: Nine Mile Run Stormwater Monitoring - Aaron Birdy, Plan/Build Manager, Upstream Pittsburgh
  • Research Spotlight: E. coli Monitoring in Upper Ohio River Valley Streams - Emily Huff, West Liberty University
  • Watch Recording

Acid Mine Drainage Monitoring and Evaluation | 2/1/24 10:00 - 11:00 am
  • GAPS Spotlight: West Wheatfield Township AMD/AML Remediation Feasibility Study - Shaun Busler, Stream Restoration, Inc.
  • Research Spotlight: Carbon Breakdown in AMD Streams - Katherine Cutlip, West Liberty University
  • Watershed Group Spotlight: Friends of Deckers Creek AMD Remediation Projects - Brian Hurley, Friends of Deckers Creek
  • Watch Recording

2022 - 2023

The West Virginia Water Research Institute (WVWRI) will host a Virtual Seminar Series from December 2022 through February 2023 to highlight current water research and remediation projects. Each session will feature three presentations pertaining to a particular theme followed by Q&A. Presenters will consist of various WVU researchers and specialists affiliated with WVWRI.

WVWRI Seminar Series

Date/Time Topic Presenters
December 1, 2022 at 10-11 AM (ET) 50 Years of the Clean Water Act

  • Melissa O'Neal (WVWRI Associate Director) - Slides
  • Timothy Craddock (WVDEP Non-Point Source Program Coordinator) - Slides
  • Emily Woodward (USGS Physical Scientist) - Slides
January 5, 2023 at 10-11 AM (ET) Mine Reclamation & Research

  • Jason Fillhart (WVWRI Watershed Project Manager) - Slides
  • Rachel Spirnak (WVWRI Water Resources Specialist) - Slides
  • Jacob Morris (WVWRI Undergraduate Student Researcher) - Slides
February 2, 2023 at 10-11 AM (ET) Studying & Preserving Freshwater Habitats

  • Joe Molina (WVU Graduate Student Researcher) - Slides
  • Erin Shepta (WVU PhD Student Researcher) - Slides
  • Charlie Shobe, PhD (WVU Assistant Professor of Geology) - Slides
  • Aras Mann (WVU Graduate Student Researcher)
  • Corey Crowder (WVU Undergraduate Student Researcher)

3RQ REACH Virtual Roundtable Series

Date/Time Topic Presenters
December 15, 2022 at 10-11 AM (ET) How to Use 3RQ

  • Eliza Siefert (WVWRI Water Resources Technician)
  • Mo Ghee (WVWRI Undergraduate Student Worker)
January 19, 2023 at 10-11 AM (ET) 3RQ Urban Watersheds

  • Jan Raether (Upstream Pgh Watershed Programs Manager) - Slides
  • Patrick Shirey (Pittsburgh Collaboratory Associate Director) - Slides
  • Renee Dolney (Chalfant Run/Thompson Run Watershed Association Director) - Slides
February 16, 2023 at 10-11 AM (ET) Thinking Big Picture: the Ohio River Basin

  • Jason Heath (ORSANCO Director of Technical Programs) - Slides
  • John Wenzel (Conemaugh Valley Conservancy Executive Director) - Slides
  • John Detisch (Harry Enstrom Chapter of the Izaak Walton League)

2022 - 2023

WVWRI is hosting a three-part virtual seminar series from December 2022 through February 2023 to share current research and remediation projects with interested outside organizations and the public.

50 Years of the Clean Water Act  | 12/1/2022

Session Highlights: 

From the West Virginia Water Research Institute, Associate Director Melissa O’Neal discussed the success WVWRI has had since its creation in 1967. Created under the Clean Water Act, there are 54 Water Research Institutes across the United States and its territories. WVWRI also houses the National Mine Land Reclamation Center (NMLRC), created by congress in 1988. NMLRC has worked on 22 passive treatment systems throughout West Virginia. Additionally, WVWRI works with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) with remediation of bond forfeiture sites.

Recent projects from WVWRI include watershed scale restoration in collaboration with WVDEP, biological and socioeconomic evaluation of remediation projects, recovery of critical materials from AMD sludge, and Three Rivers QUEST (3RQ) which performs monthly monitoring throughout the Upper Ohio River Basin since 2008. 3RQ was successful in the delisting of the Monongahela River for sulfate impairment by the EPA, due to the implementation of a discharge management plan created by WVWRI.


Non-Point Source Coordinator, Timothy Craddock, from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) focused on a long-term monitoring study in collaboration with the Interstate Commission of the Potomac River Basin (ICPRB). Through this study, it is shown that the long-term trends of alkalinity and pH are increasing throughout the state, while decreases in phosphorus, total suspended solids (TSS), and most major metals were evident. The increase of pH was particularly noticeable in the Cheat River Watershed, attributed to treatment systems which have been constructed. However, in mining regions of the state, namely the Tug Fork and Coal River, there are increases of total dissolved solids (TDS) and sulfates.

Additional to the long-term monitoring, WVDEP is involved in storm water sampling, trout surveys, specific AMD monitoring, and more recently, wetland monitoring. Timothy would like to stress that people need to be involved in and speak up about water quality issues within the state. WVDEP is eager to learn citizen’s perspectives and experiences when it comes to water quality, in the hopes to continue to improve the state’s waters.


Emily Woodward, Physical Scientist with the United States Geologic Survey (USGS), gave an overview of pre- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) monitoring throughout Pennsylvania. The first major hurdle to overcome was in developing proper sampling protocols as PFAS are present in commonly used everyday items and equipment. Emily is thrilled to announce that Pennsylvania has been at the forefront of developing these protocols. USGS completes monthly sampling at 16 sites throughout PA to determine seasonal differences, mass differences, and geographic differences in PFAS concentrations. Preliminary data has provided interesting results; for example, the types and concentrations of PFAS differ between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia sampling locations.

Additional USGS research on PFAS include sampling along the river continuum, determining concentrations in natural foams of the Delaware River Basin, determining concentrations in wastewater treatment plants that accept unconventional oil and gas (UOGs) waste, and determining concentrations associated with the Pittsburgh Air Force Base. 

Current Mine Reclamation and Research | 1/5/2023

Session Highlights: 

Jacob Morris, WVWRI Undergraduate Student Researcher, presented on his current research looking into carbon sequestration by C4 plants on abandoned mine land (AML). Utilizing carbon sequestering miscanthus and switchgrass, not only the ecosystem, but also the local economy can benefit. The grasses help to stabilize the soil, reduce erosion, and remove pollutants in addition to sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere which can be sold for carbon credits. These C4 plants are the perfect candidate for AML reclamation as they grow well on low fertility and pH soils. CO2 from the atmosphere is sequestered in the roots, shoots, and soil by photosynthesis, which can be used for growth by other organismal communities. This study creates innovative carbon reduction solutions, transforms AML into mitigation sites, and allows economic opportunities to former mining communities. Jacob would like to thank the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation for help with funding of this project.


Jason Fillhart, WVWRI Watershed Project Manager, discussed watershed scale restoration and the opportunity for rare earth element (REE) and critical material (CM) extraction from acid mine drainage (AMD). REEs comprise of 17 elements that are found in low concentrations within the soil and are used in everything from cell phones, to computers, to magnets. CMs are any substance used in technology that is subject to supply risks. Currently, China accounts for roughly 80% of the US supply of REEs. Researchers at WVWRI have developed methods to extract REE/CM from AMD. Watershed scale treatment to recover REE/CMs has a lower associated cost than a single site, and the consolidation of AMD sources allows for better recovery and watershed benefit. Many advantages come from this work, though the environmental benefit, distribution of employment, and incentivization/economic offset to treat AMD are the most notable.


Rachel Spirnak, WVWRI Water Resource Specialist, evaluated the economic benefits of watershed scale acid mine drainage (AMD) restoration within Three Fork Creek of WV. In 2004, Three Fork Creek was noted as the second highest contributor of AMD in the Mon River Basin, prompting the installation of four in-stream lime dosers in 2011. These dosers treated the impaired headwaters of the stream for a full watershed impact. In 2014, the creek was removed from the WV impaired water list for aluminum, as well as notable increase in brook trout abundance and fish diversity. To calculate the percent change in property value along Three Fork Creek before and after reclamation, an incomplete hedonic model was utilized. Property parcel values from 2010 were adjusted for inflation, compared to the values from 2021, and the percent change was calculated. Parcels within a 0.25-mile buffer of the creek saw a 181% change in property value from 2010 to 2021 indicating an economic benefit from AMD treatment. However, the study assumes that the property values respond to environmental factors and does not account for other factors affecting property value, so further research is anticipated to fill these gaps.

Studying and Preserving Freshwater Habitats | 2/2/2023

Session Highlights: 

First, Dr. Shobe, WVU Assistant Professor of Geology; Aras Mann, WVU Graduate Student Researcher; and Corey Crowder, WVU Undergraduate Student Researcher, presented on measuring and modeling erosion in Deckers Creek. The headwaters of Deckers Creek have been straightened and dredged as recently as 1963. This dredging has negative habitat and environmental impacts, including drainage of wetlands; lack of groundwater recharge; and reduction in size, number, and species diversities of fish. At least 6 miles of upper Deckers Creek has been dredged and drained which has led to rapid stream bank erosion, causing evidence of sediment contamination within the watershed. The researchers monitored four cross-sections of the creek over a period of time to determine streambank changes in relation to hydrologic changes. Throughout the study, there were consistent morphological changes between the four sites. Through modeling, it was shown that returning Deckers Creek to its original meanders would reduce erosive stress and bring the stream back to its natural condition, thus improving the conditions for native freshwater species. 

Second, Erin Shepta, WVU PhD Student Researcher, presented on an ongoing project evaluating factors limiting invasive carp into into the Ohio River. There are four carp species which were released in the Mississippi River which are now considered to be invasive. The two most notable are the Bighead Carp and the Silver Carp. These fish are plaktivores, eating the food that is necessary for the native fish. Over time, these fish have rapidly spread into the Upper Mississippi Basin, though their spread into the Ohio River Basin has slowed and stalled. In this ongoing study, Erin will be examining various interactions to learn why their spread has stalled, with the goal to reduce the invasive carp spread into other watersheds. The study will look at abiotic differences between the Ohio and Upper Mississippi River Basins, using existing water quality and daily flow data. Biotic interactions are also being looked at, utilizing stable isotopes to investigate the diets of fish within the river basins. This will give the researchers an idea of the food webs and competition the Bighead and Silver Carp may be facing. Ideally this study will be used to limit the spread of the Bighead and Silver Carp in the Upper Mississippi and other watersheds. 

Finally, Joseph Molina, WVU Graduate Student Worker, discussed his current research focus, which is to understand climate change vulnerability within West Virginia Watersheds. His research focuses on utilizing existing datasets for use within statistical modeling to determine vulnerabilities within these watersheds. There are several sub-sections under climate change vulnerability, including species vulnerability, habitat vulnerability, and community vulnerability. In his model, he includes datasets such as crayfish distributions, fish distributions, and climate projections. From this work, he was able to determine that most of West Virginia’s watersheds are less to moderately vulnerable to climate change. One watershed however, the Little Kanawha, was found to be critically vulnerable to climate change through his work so far.  

2021 - 2022

WVWRI hosted a three-part virtual seminar series from December 2021 through February 2022 to share current research and remediation projects with interested outside organizations and the public.

United States Geological Survey Research Projects | 12/16/2021, 10:00-11:00 AM.

Drinking Water Treatment Methods to Reduce Trihalomethanes (THMs): Stephanie Karczewski, WVU

Fine Coal Sediment Transport Analysis Due to Extreme Storm Events: Leslie Hopkinson, Ph.D., WVU

A Collaborative Water Quality Evaluation of Piney Creek, an Important Tributary of the New River Gorge National Park: Matthew Williams, Ph.D., WVU

Check out the recorded session on the WRI YouTube page now!

Revitalization through Remediation: Brownfield Tools that Drive Local Success | 1/20/2022, 10:00-11:00 AM.

This extremely informative session focused on the expansive range of assistance offered by the Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU, while highlighting specific projects where community groups, such as watershed organizations, play a major role in addressing significant community challenges.


  • Ray Moeller, Economic Redevelopment Specialist, Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU
  • Kelley Flaherty, Executive Director, Save the Tygart Watershed Association

  • Carrie Staton, Director, Brownfields Assistance Center at WVU

Check out the recorded session on the WRI YouTube page now!

Acid Mine Drainage Research and Remediation | 2/17/2022, 10:00-11:00 AM.

Lick Run of the Cheat River: History, Challenges, and Potential Treatment Avenues: Madison Ball, Restoration Program Manager, Friends of the Cheat

AMD Remediation Accomplishments in the Upper Buckhannon River Watershed: Jason Fillhart, Watershed Project Manager, West Virginia Water Research Institute

Analysis of Passive AMD Treatment System Components Over Lifespans, Seasons, and
storms: Jerry Hu, WVU

Check out the recorded session on the WRI YouTube page now!

2020 - 2021

WVWRI hosted a three-part virtual seminar series from December 2020 through February 2021 to share current research and remediation projects with interested outside organizations and the public.

The first session featured three research projects carried out by WVU researchers with funding from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) 104b program. These projects share the common focus of water quality and quantity. Presentations included:

  • Evaluation of Water Allocation Models for West Virginia: Leslie Hopkinson, PhD, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and undergraduate student researchers Hannah Foley, Andrew Hay, Wilson McNeil, and Ethan Wimer
  • West Virginia Water Use Assessment of Federal Datasets: Nicolas Zegre, PhD, Associate Professor of Forest Hydrology, Mountain Hydrology Laboratory, and Eric Sjostedt, Graduate Research Assistant, Mountain Hydrology Laboratory
  • Bromide, Chloride, Sulfate, and TDS Trends in the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers: Joseph Kingsbury, Graduate Research Assistant, WV Water Research Institute

The Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center (NBAC) provided an overview of its programs and highlighted key projects in the second session. NBAC, housed within WVWRI, serves to assist communities in assessing, cleaning up, and redeveloping contaminated sites. This session provided introductory information for those interested in restoring a brownfield or dilapidated building in their community. NBAC speakers included:

  • Carrie Staton, Interim Director, NBAC
  • Nicole Dias, Project Associate, NBAC
  • Ray Moeller, Economic Redevelopment Specialist, NBAC

The third and final session was dedicated to acid mine drainage (AMD) research and remediation. Projects included current and anticipated recipients of USGS 104b funding, as well as remediation efforts carried out through the National Mine Land Reclamation Center, a program of WVWRI. Presentations included:

  • Monitoring Fecal Coliforms and E. Coli in Watersheds Impacted by Acid Mine Drainage: Emily Garner, PhD, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Claire McDonald, M.S. Student in Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Lambert Run Watershed Restoration: Sarah Cayton, Program Manager, National Mine Lands Reclamation Center, WV Water Research Institute
  • Deckers Creek Passive Treatment Evaluation over Lifespans, Seasons, and Storms: Christopher Russoniello, PhD, Professor of Geology and Geography, and Brian Hurley, Executive Director, Friends of Deckers Creek

This series was an excellent opportunity for researchers, students, and remediation specialists to share their work. Participants gained new understanding and opportunities for collaboration. To view recordings of the presentations, click on the links above.