Protecting and maintaining our current water supply is a priority of scientists with the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, who were addressing the issue through research aimed at overall environmental quality and sustainability.

David Blersch, an ecological engineer and biosystems engineering faculty member, is experimenting with methods that will make high-density, high-productivity aquaculture systems in the state more environmentally friendly while producing by-products that will provide additional economic benefits to Alabama producers.

Advanced aquaculture systems developed by Auburn fisheries researchers and now being deployed across the Southeast produce a substantially larger number of fish in a much smaller area and more efficiently than traditional methods. But they also produce more waste in that smaller area.

Blersch and his team are working to recover that waste and put it to work cultivating algae, which clean the water by consuming the waste and can themselves be transformed into valuable products like nutraceuticals—nutritional products that are derived from food sources—and biofuels.

Another water-related study by School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences faculty member and AAES researcher Daowei Zhang will provide valuable insight into the value of forest ecosystems in the South and the positive impacts healthy forests have on the water supply a the watershed level. Zhang’s research promises to impact public policy decisions as it reveals a clearer picture of the relationship between water demand and pricing and the ecosystem services provided by productive timberland.

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