US EPA makes significant investment in helping communities improve water quality in Appalachian Ohio

US EPA makes significant investment in helping communities improve water quality in Appalachian Ohio

November 17, 2015

In an effort to assist communities, local governments and regional organizations to plan and implement water quality improvement projects in the area, the United States EPA (USEPA) is expanding resources available to Appalachian Ohio by investing in Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, in partnership with Rural Action, to form the Appalachian Ohio Clean Watershed Initiative.

The initiative is an expansion of the focus of the Appalachian Watershed Research Group (AWRG), which has a long history of success in acid mine drainage watershed restoration. The AWRG was created in 2001 by a group of faculty and staff from across Ohio University campus, and led by the Voinovich School. During the past decade, in partnership with state and federal agencies such as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resources Management (ODNR-DMRM), watershed professionals focused on acid mine drainage remediation have effectively restored 47 miles of streams.

“The Appalachian Ohio Clean Watershed Initiative grant gives watershed professionals an opportunity to build capacity to make lasting water quality improvements in the region.  Ohio University and collaborating community partner Rural Action will assist stakeholders to plan, design and write grants for water quality improvement projects by utilizing funds available through EPA grant programs,” Jen Bowman, Voinovich School senior environmental project manager, said.

The new funding will provide outreach and education opportunities to organizations and communities with water quality impairment issues.  This includes training and workshop opportunities for the watershed coordinators, organizations and individuals, and assisting communities with identifying projects and finding resources to complete them.

Ohio University and Rural Action will help with project development, site assessment and design assistance.  The ODNR-DMRM is another partner on the project to support acid mine drainage and abandoned mine land restoration, monitoring and project development.

“We are excited by the chance to bring more resources into the region with Ohio University, and by working with local water quality stakeholders and interested citizens across a bigger geography. Together and with partners across the region, we can preserve our best waterways while learning about and fixing our problems,” Rural Action CEO Michelle Decker said.

The project area is defined by the watersheds in the coal-bearing region of Ohio, encompassing the Muskingum River Basin, the Hocking River Basin, Raccoon Creek and the Eastern Ohio River tributaries.  These stretch as far north in Ohio as Medina County and as far south as Lawrence County.