Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Brian Woods makes this connection here…

            The article “The Sands of Lime,” which appeared in the Charleston (WV) Gazette on March 23, 2013, deals with issues relating to hydrology, specifically water quality.  Many streams in West Virginia have become too acidic for fish species such as trout to prosper, primarily from acid rain run-off and snow-melt.  The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has started a program that puts Calcium Carbonate that has been ground to sand into the streams to neutralize the pH.  This article seems to accurately portray WRE facts.  According to Masters and Ela (2007), lakes with high levels of acid have acid have sparse to non-existent fish populations so it would seem to carry over to streams as well.  Water systems that have resources of calcium carbonate can buffer the effects of acidic run-off.  However, water hardness with high concentrations of calcium carbonate and bicarbonate ions (Wurbs & James, 2002).  While the sand is swept downstream and deposited, before it is deposited, it greatly impacts the sediment load of the river.  It would be interesting to see the consequences of these effects on local species.

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Figure 1 – Twenty-four tons of limestone sand dumped into Nicholas Creek to help mitigate the effects of acid rain in the region.

            This story impacts the broader economic, environmental, and social contexts.  This program directly impacts the environment by the pH being neutralized, which in turn helps the fish population to prosper.  As a consequence, the trout stocks downstream have flourished and recreational fishing has prospered in recent years.  McCoy states that Cheat Lake and the lower Cheat River, whose watershed includes many treated streams, has benefited so much that bass tournaments are being held on Cheat Lake, which would not have been possible without upstream treatment.  Lawrence (2000) concurs with this assessment: Cheat Lake is becoming known for its fishing more than its fancy homes that line the shore.

 

References:

Lawrence, C. (2000, May 12). Once a laughingstock, cheat lake earns respect for bass fishing. Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/331839873?accountid=14214

Masters, G. M., & Ela, W. (2007). Introduction to environmental engineering and science. (Third ed., pp. 226-229). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson College Div.

McCoy, J. (2013, March 23). The sands of lime. Charleston (WV) Gazette. Retrieved from http://www.wvgazette.com/Outdoors/201303230083

Wurbs, R., & James, W. (2002). Water resources engineering. (p. 96). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall. 

 

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