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UNCW researchers awarded Environmental Enhancement Grant

The research teams will sample pond water for toxins, bacteria, toxic chemicals, heavy metals, nitrogen and phosphorus, among other pollutants
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 6:41 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein awarded two UNCW faculty members with a grant of over $92,000 to study the safety of water retention ponds in the Cape Fear Region.

Faculty members Michael Mallin and Lawrence Cahoon were awarded the grant Thursday at UNCW’s Center for Marine Science. Stein then toured the complex to see students studying marine life and conducting research in an effort to protect the state’s natural resources.

“There is a lot of history with water quality issues in this region and we all want to be around the safe water, we all want to be around high quality water,” said Ken Halanych, executive director of UNCW’s Center for Marine Science. “And so, some of the work they are doing is very important for helping, you know, the public be protected. Whether you’re talking about your dogs, your kids, or yourself.”

The research teams will sample pond water for toxins, bacteria, toxic chemicals, heavy metals, nitrogen and phosphorus, among other pollutants.

According to the University, most of the research will take place in New Hanover County in the summers of 2022 and 2023. This will help the state to determine which ponds are the most unsafe and why.

“Your work to study these issues along North Carolina’s beautiful but at-risk coast is critically important,” said Stein. “At this center, researchers and educators are fighting the threats of climate change on two fronts: you’re conducting research that will help us address some of the problems, and you’re educating and training the next generation of experts who will continue and grow that work.”

The state justice department announced a total of $462,612 in environmental grants for southeastern North Carolina. Other recipients include Winyah Rivers Alliance, the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust, and the town of Pembroke.

Stein spoke about his efforts to make sure North Carolinians have access to clean and safe drinking water.

“Clean drinking water is just fundamental to human life,” Stein said. “So whether it’s my suing Chemours and DuPont for discharging Gen X and other chemicals that last forever into the Cape Fear River, or it’s making these environmental enhancement grants that can help improve the quality of storm water retention ponds in Wilmington, that’s what my job is and I’m honored to do it.”

[NC attorney general sues DuPont, Chemours over PFAS contamination]

The Environmental Enhancement Grant program is part of an agreement between the Attorney General’s Office and Smithfield Foods. Smithfield provides $2 million to the state every year to be distributed among environmental projects across North Carolina.

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