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September 29, 2011

State and federal agencies fund half a million to ULM Toxicology

State and federal agencies have awarded over half a million dollars to the University of Louisiana at Monroe's Department of Toxicology to monitor water quality and measure biological diversity in the Bayou Lafourche and Turkey Creek tributaries.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $564,496 to ULM because these watersheds are listed as priorities by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watershed's Initiative

The goal is to aid agricultural producers in selected watersheds to implement conservation practices and systems that avoid, control and trap nutrient runoff, improve wildlife habitat, and maintain agricultural productivity.

Nutrient loading contributes to both local water quality problems and the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico, according to Toxicology Department Head Kevin Baer.

"These grants add to ongoing work near Start, Delhi, Tallulah, and in Bayou DeSiard for a total of almost $900,000 in funding for the next few years," said Baer.

Baer, Shannon Banks, John Herrock, and toxicology students at ULM will collect the data that will be critical in determining the success of conservation practices for improving water quality in these local watersheds.

The Toxicology Department will partner with the ULM Plant-Soil Analysis Laboratory, the Northeast Delta Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to complete the project.

"Students will have the opportunity to gain tremendous experience in water quality monitoring, hydrologic techniques, and biological sampling and make significant contributions in improving water quality in this area," said Baer, the grant's principal investigator.

"Participation in these projects is essential for training the next generation of environmental toxicologists and scientists."

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