Three Grants Approved For Research Projects In The St. Lawrence River Watershed: To Date, NYPA Funds Have Supported 16 Projects To Support Environmental Research And Education

Jill Chamberlain
315-764-0226, Ext. 300

April 29, 2011


MASSENA – Three projects that will contribute to the greater understanding of and appreciation for the St. Lawrence River ecosystem were awarded funding earlier this year from the St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund (SLRREF), that the New York Power Authority (NYPA) established as part of its relicensing of the St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project in 2003.

The three projects, which were recently approved by the SLRREF Board of Directors, were submitted by Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University and will receive funds totaling nearly $60,000.  These projects also will receive at total of $32,964 in matching funds from other sources. 

Since 2007 when SLRREF was initiated, 16 projects have been approved for nearly $220,000 in NYPA funding through SLRREF. With matching grants of nearly $160,000 from others, total funding for these projects is approximately $380,000. A complete list of projects and grants is available at www.nypa.gov/facilities/slrref/SLRREPProjects.html.

“ We are delighted that the St. Lawrence River Research and Education Fund Board has selected  projects for funding that have the greatest potential for preserving the long-term health of the St. Lawrence River watershed,” said NYPA President and CEO Richard M. Kessel.  “These projects are particularly meaningful because they all involve empowering others in the community and the classroom to be better environmental stewards of this magnificent waterway.”

As part of the relicensing of NYPA’s St. Lawrence-Franklin D. Roosevelt Power Project, the Power Authority created the SLRREF to support environmental research and education projects relating to the ecology of the St. Lawrence River watershed.

The SLRREF board consists of representatives of the Power Authority, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Education Services, the St. Lawrence County Planning Office, the Northern New York Audubon Society, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and local municipalities.

Grant Award to Clarkson University:

Researchers at Clarkson University were awarded a grant of $20,000 to build on previous projects funded and published with the benefit of SLRREF grants concerning plankton population in the St. Lawrence River. Critical to the support of fish stock, previous studies of plankton have looked at the growth and grazing of plankton populations in the St. Lawrence River. This most recent project will study plankton population in near shore and main channel areas of the river to bolster the ability to anticipate how changing water levels might affect food web dynamics. 

“By combining knowledge of plankton ecology with outputs from mathematical models that describe water flows in this major river we will be able to predict how future water levels—through regulation or climate change—will affect the ecosystem,” states Michael Twiss, associate professor, Biology, and director, Great Rivers Center,  Clarkson University. 

“We build on earlier funding from SLRREF to get to the point where we are ready to predict how water levels could affect plankton populations,” added Twiss. “And this past support has both increased our knowledge base needed for proper management of this globally significant river and provided excellent training opportunities for student researchers.”

St. Lawrence University will receive grants for two projects:

One grant for $20,275 will be used to determine the loading of elements and anions (from the dissolution of minerals) to the St. Lawrence River from its tributaries in St. Lawrence County. The project will focus on water chemistry from tributaries located between Ogdensburg and Akwesasne using students from St. Lawrence University.  Students will be trained in aspects of water quality and analysis, and will ultimately provide a dataset for use by a broader community of academic and environmental stakeholders.

Jeff Chiarenzelli, chair, Geology Department, St. Lawrence University, said:  “I am quite pleased to receive the funding from the SLRREF grant which will allow us to continue our work on the geochemistry of natural waters.  The data will be used to evaluate the potential impact of land use, acidification, and other factors on river ecosystem health and future changes that may occur related to development or climate alteration.”

The second grant, worth $19,648, was awarded for research conducted by St Lawrence University to help develop a comprehensive assessment of lake ecology and water quality for major lakes in the Northern New York watershed and to examine whether outflows from these lakes influence the tributary rivers that feed into the St. Lawrence River. The project aims to expand the role of lake association members in shaping the water quality of the St. Lawrence River tributaries and will provide students with opportunities for learning about regional environmental issues from knowledgeable, multi-perspective citizen scientists.

Brad Baldwin, associate professor, Biology, St. Lawrence University, said, “I’m very excited about this grant, because it will allow me to learn from area lake association members, who have extensive understanding of the history and water quality of their lakes, and work with them and my students to better describe the ecology of their lakes and the collective roles of these lakes in shaping the ecology of the St Lawrence River.”

Information on the next deadline for submitting grant proposals will be available in the near future at http://www.nypa.gov/facilities/slrref/slrrefhome.htm.  To be eligible for financial support from the SLRREF, proposed projects must pertain to the St. Lawrence River, the adjoining terrestrial features or a tributary within the St. Lawrence River Valley.

Additional details on SLRREF are available at http://www.nypa.gov/facilities/slrref/slrrefhome.htm, where a report on SLRREF activities is also accessible.

About NYPA:

■ The New York Power Authority uses no tax money or state credit. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity. ■ NYPA is a leader in promoting energy efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives. ■ It is the nation's largest state public power organization, with 17 generating facilities in various parts of New York State and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. ■ Approximately 80 percent of the electricity it produces is clean renewable hydropower.  Its lower-cost power production and electricity purchases support hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the state. ■For more information, www.nypa.gov.


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