March 7, 2005 –
Morgantown, W.Va. – Paul F. Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University‘s National Research Center for Coal and Energy, was awarded the Environmental Conservation Distinguished Service Award of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers in recognition of his outstanding service, foresight and innovation in mine reclamation and water quality improvement at the annual meeting of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration. The award ceremony was held last week in Salt Lake City, Utah at the group’s annual meeting.
Ziemkiewicz currently serves on state and federal policy advisory committees focusing on reclamation and acid mine drainage. He is the author of Acid Mine Drainage Control & Treatment, a handbook used by engineers worldwide for water remediation.
Under Ziemkiewicz’s direction, the West Virginia Water Research Institute has conducted projects at Big Bear Lake and on Sovern Run, the North Fork of Greens Run, the Middle Fork of Greens Run, the McCarty highwall, the Pase Property, Connors Run, and the Sherman Helms mine portal, all in the Cheat River watershed. The researchers are studying a variety of inexpensive technologies ranging from open limestone stream channels to nearly airtight underground limestone drains to steel slag-lined ponds.
The WVWRI’s strategy is to remove over half of the acidity at each treatment site so that the net effect is neutral water in the target stream. “The first ton of acidity removed is always the cheapest,” said Ziemkiewicz. “Trying to achieve drinking water levels at each mine discharge would mean we spend all of our money on one or two sites and put really good water into really bad streams. Rather, we’re trying to improve the stream by gradually reducing the total amount of pollutant in headwater locations,” said Ziemkiewicz.
The approach has worked very well allowing a fishery to be reestablished in one Cheat River tributary, the Big Sandy Creek, which had been dead for decades.