The Cheat Aquatic Pollution And BaseLine Ecological (CAPABLE) Monitoring Program is a volunteer initiative to collect vital statistics on the health of the Cheat watershed in streams that are at risk for impacts and watch for illegal activity that could pollute our streams. The program can be compared to a neighborhood watch program. FOC provides equipment to volunteers and trains them to take conductivity and pH readings, record stream and water quality observations, and equips them to take water samples to send to a certified laboratory for analysis if necessary. The volunteers monitor their site(s) as available, with a target frequency of once every two weeks.
Historically, the CAPABLE program has also deployed continuous data-loggers in streams around the lower Cheat River watershed that take temperature and electrical conductivity readings every 15 minutes around the clock.
The CAPABLE program is supported by 6 volunteers from throughout Preston County who share an interest in protecting the water quality where they live. Volunteers monitor streams and tributaries near their homes every two weeks, year round. They also report any potentially harmful activity to FOC for further investigation. If you are interested in participating in the CAPABLE program, contact Ellie Bell, the Volunteer Monitoring Coordinator at FOC (Ellie@cheat.org).
The following excerpt was expressed by a volunteer after a training workshop.
“I am participating in the CAPABLE program because I think it fills a gap in the way we monitor fracking and other potentially damaging activity in our watersheds. Lots of people I know are anxious about the potential for water pollution from shale gas exploration and development. The CAPABLE program addresses that anxiety head-on, and gives volunteers a way to contribute constructively to the task of protecting our local water resources for ourselves and future generations. If you think Marcellus Shale development is benign, you should support FOC’s CAPABLE program because it can provide the scientific data to support your point of view. If you don’t like Marcellus Shale gas development, you should support the CAPABLE program because it is a cost-effective early warning system when problems occur, and it provides a solid scientific basis for action to address those problems. Either way, CAPABLE sheds much-needed light on the debate over fracking, and continues FOC’s tradition of hands-on effective partnership with government, industry, and local volunteers to protect the Cheat watershed.”
Donations to the CAPABLE volunteer monitoring program will be used to support direct program costs, which include: field equipment procurement and maintenance, volunteer training events, development of informational materials, volunteer support, data analysis, and third party lab analysis. Any and all contributions are greatly appreciated.
Check out the CAPABLE Annual Report, which dives into the history of the program, data collection and analysis methods, and reviews the volunteer data collected between August 2011 and December 2012.
Follow the link below to view the WVGES Oil & Gas interactive map, which displays oil and gas wells and permits throughout West Virginia. Various map “layers” are available based on resolution.
For more information about trainings or the program, contact Ellie Bell, the Monitoring Coordinator, by phone at 304-329-3621 or by e-mail at Ellie@cheat.org.