Indiana University of Pennsylvania
faculty members and students will move into year six of testing water from the
Beaver Run Reservoir as a result of an $85,000 contract with the Municipal
Authority of Westmoreland County.
most recent contract, IUP has received a total of $390,000 since 2011 to test
and monitor the reservoir’s water quality.
the project, students in IUP’s Geography and Regional Planning Department
collect samples from the reservoir, and students in the Chemistry Department
test the samples and compile the data. The data is posted on the Geography and
Regional Planning website. Leading the project are IUP faculty members Brian
Okey, Geography and Regional Planning, and Nathan McElroy, Chemistry. The
partnership began in June 2011.
of the municipal authority initiated the testing project because of the
drilling of horizontal Marcellus shale gas wells adjacent to the reservoir.
members wanted to engage an independent third party to conduct water sampling,”
Okey said. “We were able to formulate a very comprehensive services proposal
that successfully addressed the need of the municipal authority to be vigilant
about monitoring and protecting the water source.”
and McElroy noted that the project offers a valuable opportunity for the
students, providing real-world work experiences outside of the classroom and a chance
for students from different majors to work together.
initial contract for the testing in 2011 was for $55,000. Since that time, the
project and funding for the contract has increased, reflecting the demands of
an expanded testing area. Funds are also being used to purchase new equipment
for the testing project.
testing of samples since 2011, students and faculty members have not detected a
threat to water the reservoir provides to customers in the service area,
although they have observed silt from construction activities, Okey said.
Results from the testing project are available online.
Run Reservoir holds 11 billion gallons of water and serves as a source of
drinking water for about 150,000 people.