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Week of September 16, 2013

U-M Water Center awards $2.9M for eight Great Lakes restoration projects

The U-M Water Center has awarded eight research grants, totaling nearly $2.9 million, to support Great Lakes restoration and protection efforts.

Along with 12 smaller grants awarded in May, the Water Center has provided more than $3.4 million in research funds since it formed last October with an initial focus on the Great Lakes, working closely with academic colleagues and resource managers to improve restoration outcomes.

The latest two-year grants, which range in size from $155,358 to $458,290, were awarded to multidisciplinary teams led by researchers at universities in Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New York. The eight winners were selected from 90 proposals submitted for the second round of U-M Water Center grants.

The projects will support efforts to restore native fish migrations across the Great Lakes Basin, assess strategies to restore the health of the Green Bay ecosystem under a changing climate, improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin, guide ecological restoration of Saginaw Bay, assess the effectiveness of wetlands restoration projects in the Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River watershed, determine the relative contributions of agricultural runoff and sewage discharge in fecal pollution entering lakes Michigan and Erie, and map Great Lakes environmental stressors.

“These grants support restoration-focused research that will fill knowledge gaps and enhance decision making in the Great Lakes Basin,” said Water Center Director Allen Burton.

A center of U-M’s Graham Sustainability Institute, the Water Center was made possible by a $4.5 million, three-year grant from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and additional funds from the university.

“We are very pleased with these new grants as well as the center’s collaborative approach,” said foundation President John Erb.

In selecting the eight grants, special emphasis was given to proposals that integrated one or more focus areas of the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative — cleaning up toxics, combating invasive species, restoring habitat and ridding nearshore waters of polluted runoff — or that evaluated the potential effects of climate change on Great Lakes restoration efforts. In all cases, the U-M funding will be used to support existing restoration and protection efforts in the Great Lakes, not to establish new projects.

Two researchers from the School of Natural Resources and Environment are among those involved with the projects: J. David Allan, professor of conservation biology and ecosystem management, and Sigrid Smith, research area specialist.

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