State Water Resources Research Institute Program (WRRI)

Details for Project ID 2011LA80B, 2011

Louisiana Watershed Education Initiative for Environmental Sustainability

Institute: Louisiana
Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2012-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $15,855 Total Non-Federal Funds: $31,869

Principal Investigators: Zhi-Qiang Deng

Abstract: The Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) has played a major role over the past 40 years in resolving water quality problems through a system of laws, regulations and judicial enforcement. This system defined and addressed criminal activity in all its variety and successfully controlled point pollution sources. However, land use/land cover change along with climate change has significantly increased nonpoint source pollution. As a result, majority of Louisiana waterbodies still does not support for fish and wildlife propagation. The pollutants from the nonpoint sources are difficult to measure and nearly impossible to regulate through the conventional CWA-based approach alone. The solution to the nonpoint source pollution demands a watershed approach that looks broadly to maintain water quality and ecological integrity on a watershed basis in the context of environmental sustainability. The implementation of the watershed approach requires a combination of public education, scientific endeavors, water quality management, and regulatory enforcement. The overall goal of this project is to promote the application of watershed approach and thereby the watershed excellence in Louisiana by initiating a watershed education program, called Louisiana Watershed Education & Training Program for Environmental Sustainability (LA WETPES). The LA WETPES will provide necessary knowledge, information, and tools for the general public, water resources professionals, and future workforce (undergraduate and graduate students) to understand watershed functions and apply the watershed approach, and thereby to promote watershed excellence and water environment sustainability in Louisiana. Specific objectives of the project are: (1) To provide local residents with information on the quality of their watershed and solutions to their watershed pollution problems, enhancing the development and growth of local stakeholder involvement in the Watershed Excellence program in Louisiana; (2) To provide training and technical assistance on topics of concern or interest to local watershed stakeholders and more specifically on the application of well-calibrated watershed models for water resources and environmental managers and engineers; and (3) To increase the future workforce equipped with the skills necessary to apply the watershed approach in civil and environmental engineering. The objectives will be accomplished by executing three tasks: (1) construction of a user-friendly website (this is a major product of the project) for LA WETPES, (2) making well-calibrated and validated watershed models available for download and providing on-demand professional training for watershed model applications; and (3) organization of a summer watershed internship program for primarily undergraduate students while the program is also open to graduate students and water resources professionals. The proposed strategy is to expose local stakeholders in a variety of watershed education settings including web visits, field trips, hands-on experiences, and seminars supported by the scientific endeavors of PI’s research group. The proposed project has broader implications for environmental restoration and sustainability in Louisiana. This project will help water resources communities identify nonpoint source pollution problems in Louisiana watersheds and find LID (Low Impact Development) based solutions to restoration of impaired waterbodies through a watershed approach while educating/training the next generation of water resource and environmental engineering professionals. This project is the first step toward the establishment of a US EPA designated Center for Watershed Excellence in Louisiana.