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FGCU's Water School keeping a close eye on water quality after Ian

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Following the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Michael on Southwest Florida, the Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) has been closely monitoring the impact on local water quality. The hurricanes caused flooding, increased stormwater runoff, and even brought red tide, negatively affecting the ecosystem of the region. The Water School is playing a crucial role in collecting data, assessing the damage, and developing solutions to improve water quality in the aftermath of these natural disasters.

FGCU’s Water School: Promoting Research and Education on Florida’s Water Resources

Florida is known as the “Sunshine State” and attracts millions of visitors every year due to its beautiful beaches and warm weather. However, as much as Florida’s climate is attractive, it is also quite vulnerable. One of the most significant issues affecting Florida’s environmental health is water quality. In this regard, Florida Gulf Coast University’s Water School is playing a pivotal role in promoting research and education aimed at improving Florida’s water resources.

The Ian Impact

The water crisis in Florida was brought to the forefront in 2018 when an unusually persistent red tide algae bloom affected the state’s southern coast. In addition to killing marine life and impacting businesses, it raised concerns about the safety of Florida’s drinking water. Ian, which was the name given to the aforementioned red tide bloom, lingered for about 16 months, which was way longer than previous epidemics in the area.

The event triggered a call to action from the scientific community and prompted the state and local governments to invest more in researching the issues and developing solutions to protect water quality. As one of the leading academic institutions in Florida, FGCU took action by revamping its offerings in water resources research and education.

FGCU Water School

The FGCU Water School’s mission is to safeguard and improve the resilient ecological systems and vibrant economies in Southwest Florida by promoting research, education, and outreach activities focused on solving water-resource problems. The school brings together multiple departments and disciplines, including civil and environmental engineering, marine science, environmental studies, and political science, creating a robust community of interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners. This diversity of input fosters an approach that is both creative and analytical.

In the wake of the Ian incident, FGCU Water School is devoted to providing long-term solutions to reduce the intensity of red tides and prevent their occurrence in the future. The institute also aims to research ways to minimize the ecological and economic impacts of such blooms.

FGCU Water School’s Focus Areas

The FGCU Water School has several focus areas in which it seeks to make a difference. These include research, education, and outreach. Through its research activities, the Water School is engaged in applied projects in estuarine ecology, hydrology, and water quality. These activities span a vast array of topics, from studying seagrass and mangrove communities in estuaries to looking at methods for treating drinking water to wide-scale ecological modeling.

The education department of the school is where undergraduate and graduate students receive an education in different water resources fields. FGCU Water School’s curriculum combines classroom study, experiential learning, and field trips to equip students with valuable knowledge and practical skills in issues related to water resources and coastal environments.

The outreach component of the Water School focuses on engaging the community via activities such as webinars, workshops, and conferences. By working with the community, the Water School aims to make the public more aware of the issues, and provide information on how individuals can contribute to the goal of achieving better water quality in Florida.

Conclusion

The FGCU Water School’s vision of keeping Florida’s water resources safe for all to enjoy is vital. While Florida is known as the “Sunshine State,” it cannot take water quality for granted. The Ian incident showed just how vulnerable Florida’s water resources are, but FGCU’s Water School is doing its part to reverse the damage and protect the future. Through its research, education, and outreach activities, FGCU Water School is making significant contributions towards maintaining a clean and healthy water system in Florida.

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