Indiana University of Pennsylvania faculty members and students have started the ninth year of water testing and the fifth year of air quality testing at the Beaver Run Reservoir through contracts with the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.
The water testing contract is $107,000; the air quality monitoring contract is $25,000.
With these recent contracts, IUP has received more than $775,000 since 2011 to test and monitor the surface water quality at the reservoir and surrounding watershed areas, and $103,000 for the air monitoring project.
More than 60 students from four academic departments have worked on these projects over the past nine years. Students in IUP’s Department of Geography and Regional Planning collect field data and water samples from the reservoir and surrounding areas. Students in the Department of Chemistry test the samples and analyze the data. IUP faculty members Nate McElroy (chemistry) and Brian Okey (geography and regional planning) lead the project.
John Bradshaw from IUP’s Department of Physics and his students have been monitoring the air quality at the site since July 2015, specifically the methane levels in the area near four gas production sites and concentrations of compressor gases near the compressor station.
Members of the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County initiated the project because of unconventional (horizontal) drilling of Marcellus and some Utica shale gas wells adjacent to the reservoir. The Beaver Run Reservoir holds 11 billion gallons of water and serves more than 130,000 customers in the region. All project field and lab data can be found on the IUP Beaver Run project website.