Liz Myers Transforms Pollution into Art

December 1, 2023

EnviroScience Restoration EIT Liz Myers at Sunday CreekEnviroScience proudly spotlights the exceptional work of Elizabeth “Liz” Myers, our esteemed Restoration EIT (Engineer in Training). Liz has played a pivotal role in tackling one of Ohio’s most persistent environmental challenges, specifically addressing acid mine drainage (AMD) in Sunday Creek in Southeast Ohio. Her journey reflects a dedication to turning a source of pollution into a multifaceted solution that transcends environmental boundaries.

Background: Sunday Creek’s AMD Challenge

Winding through southeastern Ohio, Sunday Creek has long suffered from abandoned coal mines, resulting in nearly 1,000 gallons of severely contaminated water per minute. The acidic discharge, laden with iron oxide, has rendered Sunday Creek the worst AMD site in the state, posing significant risks to aquatic life, drinking water, and infrastructure.

In response to this urgent environmental issue, Ohio University professor John Sabraw proposed a unique collaboration involving artists, researchers, and community organizers. The innovative idea was to use the iron oxide responsible for the creek’s discoloration to create paint pigments. This initiative, known as True Pigments, not only promised to address AMD but also held the potential for art, job creation, and clean water.

True Pigments: A Transformative Water-Treatment Facility

EnviroScience Restoration EIT Liz Myers at Sunday Creek

Building on Sabraw’s vision, the regional nonprofit Rural Action initiated the True Pigments project. This endeavor aims to establish a water-treatment facility in Millfield, Ohio, strategically positioned to remediate seven miles of Sunday Creek while annually producing 1,200 tons of iron oxide pigment. Developed by Ohio University professor Guy Riefler, the process effectively reduces acidity, removes iron oxide, and ensures that only clean water enters Sunday Creek.

What sets True Pigments apart is its forward-thinking approach. Profits from iron oxide pigment sales, estimated at nearly $2 million per year, will be reinvested into building additional water-treatment facilities in the region. This unique reinvestment strategy contributes to environmental restoration and stimulates the local economy.

Environmental and Economic Impact

The True Pigments project not only addresses immediate environmental issues in Sunday Creek but also brings far-reaching benefits. By repurposing AMD into valuable iron oxide pigments, the initiative reduces the need for imports, cutting carbon emissions and minimizing the demand for environmentally taxing mining and synthesis processes. Furthermore, the project’s economic impact extends to the local community, doubling the annual payroll of the Millfield zip code.

A Personal Journey: Learning and Growing with AMD

EnviroScience Restoration EIT Liz Myers at Sunday CreekProviding insights into this project, Liz Myers illuminates her unique journey. From breaking ground in the summer of 2023 to the anticipated completion of the True Pigments facility in two years, her story extends beyond her academic roots. Starting as a freshman in undergrad, having not yet completed treatment or design curricula, she embraced on-the-job learning. Liz attributes her growth to consistent dedication, posing challenging questions, collaborating across disciplines, and gaining hands-on experience. These qualities, evidenced throughout her journey, seamlessly align with EnviroScience’s Core Values.

Liz’s passion for the environment, paired with her commitment to learning, collaboration, and quality, makes her a perfect match for our company culture—reinforcing our dedication to excellence and client satisfaction. The wealth of knowledge she gained significantly enhances her contributions to the team. Her reflections underscore the profound impact that skills developed in niche environmental work can have on one’s professional journey.

Conclusion: A Local Triumph with Global Implications

As construction for True Pigments progresses from the groundbreaking in the summer of 2023, we witness the transformation of a local issue into a global solution. Elizabeth Myers and the collaborative efforts of artists, researchers, and community organizers exemplify the potential for science and creativity to address environmental challenges.

True Pigments is not just about turning AMD into art; it’s about turning a global issue into a local triumph, showcasing the interconnectedness of environmental responsibility and artistic innovation. EnviroScience is proud to have Liz Myers on our team, contributing to projects beyond remediation and restoration, shaping a sustainable and creative future for our planet.

Few environmental firms in the country retain EnviroScience’s degree of scientific know-how, talent, and capability under one roof. The diverse backgrounds of our biologists, environmental engineers, scientists, and divers enable us to provide comprehensive in-house services and an integrated approach to solving environmental challenges—saving clients time, reducing costs, and ensuring high-quality results.

Our client guarantee is to provide “Excellence in Any Environment,” meaning no matter what we do, we will deliver on our Core Values of respect, client advocacy, quality work, accountability, teamwork, and safety. EnviroScience was created with the concept that we could solve complex problems by empowering great people. This concept still holds true today as our scientists explore the latest environmental legislation and regulations and incorporate the most up-to-date technology to gather and report data.

EnviroScience expertise includes but is not limited to aquatic surveys (including macroinvertebrate surveys and biological assessments); ecological restoration; ecological services (including impact assessments, invasive species control, and water quality monitoring);  emergency response; engineering and compliance services; endangered mussel surveys; laboratory and analysis; stormwater management; threatened and endangered species; and wetlands and streams (including delineation and mitigation). Further, EnviroScience is one of the few biological firms in the country that is a general member of the Association of Diving Contractors International (ADCI) and offers full-service commercial diving services.