An innovative program to tackle the problem of non-point source pollution, one of the most challenging water-quality problems in Pennsylvania, is a winner of the 2013 Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards, announced last week by Dominion and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.
Representatives of the Evergreen Conservancy, which created this program, will accept the award at the Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards Dinner and Awards Ceremony on May 23 at the Westin Convention Center Hotel in Pittsburgh.
The award is presented for leadership, effectiveness and results in making an impact on the environment by Dominion and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council and includes a $5,000 donation.
Non-point source pollution is one of the major water quality problems in Pennsylvania, and one that cannot be easily addressed due to the difficulty of locating the source. With the start of unconventional deep well natural gas drilling in Indiana County, there was a renewed concern for the water quality in local waterways.
Consequently, the Evergreen Conservancy began a water quality initiative to continuously monitor streams, examine potential non-point source pollution and establish guidelines for reporting potential pollution problems. Representatives installed monitoring devices in streams throughout the county where problems with Marcellus shale, acid mine drainage, sewage, erosion, sedimentation, or other potential non-point source pollution may occur in order to monitor the streams for potential pollution events.
If a spike in conductivity is noted, Evergreen representatives could notify state and local officials to pinpoint the source of the problem and the responsible party.
Evergreen then partnered with the Indiana County Emergency Management department to install monitors in streams near areas that have experienced a high incidence of chemical spills and leaks. These monitors can notify Evergreen and emergency management immediately after such an incident, allowing for a rapid response and preventing spills and leaks from becoming damaging pollution problems.
This project is one of five winners from throughout western Pennsylvania chosen by a group of independent judges of environmental experts and Pennsylvania Environmental Council staff in response to a call for entries earlier this year.
All entries were judged on the basis of their relevance to local environmental priorities, evidence of their impact on the environment, their approach to solving an environmental problem, and the environmental benefit of their work.