Professor and wife team author river remediation book


The majority of collegiate textbooks about river contamination lacked all of the information for assessing water quality that Jerry Miller, the Blanton J. Whitmire Distinguished Professor in Environmental Science, wanted his students to have.

So Miller and his wife, Suzanne Orbock Miller (pictured above), decided to take matters into their own hands as they began writing the book “Contaminated Rivers: A Geomorphological-Geochemical Approach to Site Assessment and Remediation,” which was recently published by Springer.

“Most books on contamination focus almost exclusively on the chemistry of contaminants in water, but there are physical aspects of contamination that also should be examined,” said Miller. “Contaminants such as lead or mercury, for instance, are primarily found attached to sediment. They can be distributed downstream through physical processes.”

The book incorporates information about contamination linked to physical processes in the strategies and programs identified to cost-effectively characterize, assess and remediate contaminated river systems.

The content draws from Miller’s expertise and experience with contaminated rivers around the world and Orbock Miller’s experience in assessing how changes in land use will impact river systems and contaminant dispersal.

“Understanding how rivers may change as a result of changing land-use or climate change is a vital part of doing site assessments,” said Orbock Miller, who is also a science teacher at Tuscola High School in Waynesville.

Specific remediation projects explored in the text include some based in Western North Carolina as well as the Rio Puerco in New Mexico, the Carson River in Nevada, the Rio Pilcomayo and Rio Tupiza in Bolivia, the Essequibo and Mazaruni rivers in Guyana and the Amazon River in Brazil.