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USDA Awards More Than $5 Million in Water Quality Grants

Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, March 3, 2008 - Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced today that USDA is awarding $5.2 million in grants to 14 universities and the EPA to conduct research aimed at improving and maintaining healthy watershed habitat and water supplies.

"Developing science-based information on water quality issues is critical for America's producers and consumers," Schafer said. "These grants will help us understand the sources and work of microorganisms in water used in agricultural production, which is critical to maintaining a safe food supply."

The awards are administered by USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) through the National Research Initiative (NRI) Water and Watershed competitive grants program. The program seeks to reduce pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa, in waters derived from agricultural and rural watersheds, as well as maintain adequate water supplies for agricultural crop and livestock production and rural use. In the past five years, the program has awarded more than $23 million in grants.

Funded projects include research to identify relationships between land management and the introduction of microbial pollutants into highly impaired watersheds at Ohio State University. Research at University of Vermont will investigate how pathogenic bacteria, in particular the ones that can swim, travel through the ground and in irrigation pipes. Cornell University researchers will study how roadside ditches act as a rapid conduit for pathogens, nutrients and other contaminants from agricultural lands to downstream drinking water reservoirs.

The fiscal year 2007 grants were awarded to:




Grant Amount

Stanford University



University of California



U.S. Environmental Protection Agency



Florida A&M University



Iowa State University



Kansas State University



University of Nebraska



Rutgers University



New Mexico State University



Cornell University



Ohio State University



Oklahoma State University



University of Pennsylvania



University of Texas



University of Vermont




CSREES' NRI program is the largest peer-reviewed, competitive grants program at USDA. NRI supports research, extension and education grants that address key problems of national, regional and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of agriculture.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.