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First State researchers get more federal funding for water quality solutions

Delaware researchers are getting more federal funding to develop recommendations to address the state’s climate challenges.

The National Science Foundation is awarding $19.2 million to a state coalition focused on First State water quality and supply issues.

This is the fourth round of grant funding to the group, which includes Delaware State University, the University of Delaware, Wesley College and DelTech.

UD associate professor Holly Michael said her team is working on how human behavior impacts the amount of salt in groundwater.

“So if there are changes in the natural system or changes in policy that will affect human behavior, how will that then feed back into the natural system and change what’s happening,” she said.

Michael notes Delaware is vulnerable to salt degrading water quality because of factors like sea level rise and rising temperatures.

Michael said the money has allowed them to pursue their water quality and sea level rise research, while helping build up facilities, workforce and expertise.

“So we can address new questions, new problems, new aspects of the coastal water system that we weren’t able to address before,” she said.

Michael said the last grant funding was partly used to examine how metal contaminants from old industrial sites in Wilmington could enter water when there’s flooding.

She notes this new money will aid research into other local water concerns like excess salt in city groundwater and agricultural soil in the Dover area.

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