Real-Time Internet Visualization and Environmental Reporting Network (RiverNet): the Upper Susquehanna/Lackawanna American Heritage RiverEPA Grant Number: R828581
Title: Real-Time Internet Visualization and Environmental Reporting Network (RiverNet): the Upper Susquehanna/Lackawanna American Heritage River
Investigators: Tomaine, James , Bruns, Dale , Krehely, Robert
Institution: Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority, PA , Wilkes University
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: December 1, 2000 through August 31, 2007
Project Amount: $399,909
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (2000) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Water , Air
This project has four major objectives: 1) to monitor key water quality parameters within the watershed of the Upper Susquehanna/Lackawanna American Heritage River (AHR); 2) to use real-time water quality instruments to characterize environmental conditions in a river ecosystem with mine-scarred lands, acid mine drainage (AMD), and mixed sewage from combined sewer overflows (CSOs); 3) to make these data available to the public and other community stakeholders, including local and state agencies, via real-time data loggers linked to a community-based GIS (geographic information system) that provides Web-based Internet visualizations; and 4) to conduct environmental education and public outreach activities, including workshops and various ecological watershed GIS visualizations on the Internet, to educate and inform the public and stakeholders about concepts of environmental quality, pollution, and GIS data as a watershed decision support tool to facilitate assessment and cleanup strategies on the Upper Susquehanna-Lackawanna River, the focus of a major AHR community program.
This AHR watershed covers 1800 square miles and has been heavily impacted over the last 100 years from coal mining in the Northern Anthracite Field (clean-up costs estimated at $1.9 billion) and from more than 225 CSOs that unload human sewage (from a population of almost 500,000 people) mixed with stormwater into the river during storm events. Severe and extensive land damage from mining and major degradation of a large river ecosystem has resulted in significant economic stagnation in this ten-county area of the AHR with over 350 townships, municipalities, and boroughs. At present, there is no continuous, coordinated water quality monitoring program by any local, state, or federal agency to track the impacts associated with these pollution sources. In order to implement a continuous water quality monitoring program, we propose to work with a partnership of local and state environmental groups and agencies to implement an instrumented monitoring network that provides real-time (or near real-time) data on the condition of the river and key tributaries in the watershed. GIS will be used as a decision support tool to rank and prioritize potential locations for monitoring. Environmental information for the public and community stakeholders will follow a three-pronged approach: 1) Internet posting of graphical indicators of water quality; 2) GIS Web visuals of water quality and land use patterns in the watershed; and 3) workshops and curricular development activities.
This project will result in: a community that understands the past, present, and future environmental concerns of its rivers; a facilitated approach toward reclamation of impacted lands and water resources; and the eventual recovery of the damaged stream and river ecosystems of this region. Also, it should be transferable based on a demo with Wayne County, MI, on the Detroit American Heritage River. It is important to note that this EMPACT proposal is the end result of over 12 public meetings held in the region by the AHR Steering Committee where top priorities were established for monitoring and cleaning up CSOs and AMD in the watershed as part of the AHR Work Plan.