USDA Announces More than $11 Million in Water Quality Grants

More than $11 million in grants will be awarded to universities nationwide to address water supply and water quality issues in rural, agricultural and urbanizing watersheds, Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner announced on Oct. 10. Highlighted among these grants are two projects that address bioenergy production and water resource issues.

"As we move forward in developing our capacity to produce biofuels, we must understand the impacts on our natural resources," Conner said. "These studies will help government, industry and farmers and ranchers make the most environmentally sound and sustainable choices to produce bioenergy."

The two projects, funded by the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), take unique approaches to addressing bioenergy development.

Investigators at Washington State University will explore the impacts of irrigating switchgrass for bioenergy development. The project will test long-lived, water-efficient perennial grasses for biofuel production to supplement the nation's energy supply, saving water for human, food and other societal needs.

At the University of Wisconsin, investigators are attempting to address the environmental and economic impacts of an emerging bio-economy in 14 Midwest states. Their efforts focus on how best to provide a research-based understanding of the issues and provide a robust outreach program that engages communities and key stakeholder interests in appropriate decision making that respects local economies and the environment.

CSREES funded these grants through its National Integrated Water Quality Program (NIWQP). The NIWQP program includes regional and national water quality coordination projects, along with watershed-scale projects to support combined agricultural research, extension and education activities. Funded projects lead to science-based decision making and management practices that improve the quality of the nation's surface water and groundwater resources in agricultural, rural and urbanizing watersheds

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