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ILE-affiliated professor part of $1.2 million grant awarded to CSU to research water issues

November 9, 2009

[Source: The Coloradoan]

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded CSU $1.2 million in grants to aid in research addressing critical water resource issues.

Colorado State University was the only institution in Colorado to receive part of the $11 million distributed by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The grants are distributed through the National Integrated Water Quality Program, which aims to address issues such as water quality protection and water conservation.

“Cities, communities and rural areas across the nation depend on a safe and abundant supply of water for drinking and cooking,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “This research will play a vital role in our understanding of the part water plays in the ecosystem and developing tools and strategies to effectively manage our water resources.”

The National Integrated Water Quality Program addresses critical water resource issues in agricultural, rural and urban watersheds through research, education and extension projects and programs.

CSU received two grants.

The first is for coordinated regional water resources programming for the Northern Plains and Mountains region.

The second grant is for a multi-criteria decision tool for the assessment and planning of watershed conservation practices.

Mazdak Arabi, CSU civil and environmental engineering professor, [and member of the Institute for Livestock and the Environment] is lead researcher for this project that was awarded $615,000 as part of the 2009 USDA national and watershed scale grants.

This integrated study aims to develop and disseminate an innovative open-source Web technology called eRAMS that enhances decision makers’ capacity to target conservation practices for sediment, nutrient and pesticide control.

This project takes technology transfer to a whole new level because end users don’t need new software or hardware to obtain data, develop appropriate models, and perform scenario analysis and optimization studies. Water-shed planners will benefit from vast data resources and models that are accessible to the research community and can assess the costs and conservation benefits of alternative management scenarios.

Although efforts will initially be focused in the South Platte River Basin in Colorado, the technology will be applicable to two watersheds in Indiana and North Carolina with significantly different ecohydrologic characteristics. Additionally, educational and outreach materials will be developed and used in two courses at CSU and in national workshops.

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