URI Cooperative Extension receives grants for water quality initiatives

KINGSTON, R.I. — November 17, 2000 — The University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension has been awarded two grants totaling $1.4 million to foster water quality protection programs at the regional and national levels. In addition, a $1 million grant announced last spring addresses water quality issues locally.

“These three projects will draw on the expertise of Cooperative Extension staff and faculty from the Natural Resources Science Department to integrate research with education to improve water quality around the country,” said Arthur Gold, director of URI’s Water Quality Program. “All three projects are related, so each will benefit from the lessons and advances of the others.”

With a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, URI will lead a consortium of New England universities in the creation of a unified program that will focus on volunteer water quality monitoring, municipal watershed protection, residential pollution prevention, and best management practices in agriculture. This effort will target watersheds of designated National Estuaries, American Heritage River Corridors, National Heritage River Corridors, and other priority watersheds in the region.

In conjunction with the University of Wisconsin, URI was awarded a $400,000 grant to develop training materials, establish a website, and build a comprehensive support system for the network of volunteer water quality monitoring programs at universities across the country. URI’s Watershed Watch Program, which uses volunteers to monitor water quality at lakes and ponds throughout Rhode Island, is one such program.

“This effort will result in stronger and more active data sharing among water quality monitoring programs around the U.S., and will serve as a national model,” said Gold. Funding comes from the Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service.

The third project, already under way, is a national demonstration project funded by the Environmental Protection Agency that aims to reduce the risks of coastal pollution from residential wastewater in the towns of Charlestown, South Kingstown and New Shoreham.