$19.2 million grant aimed at solving water issues in Delaware

DOVER, Del. –¬†Delaware state leaders and faculty members at Delaware State University celebrated a $19.2 million dollar grant that will help fund research to solve several water issues in the First State.

“There are water quality issues mostly at the southern part of our state because of the legacy of agriculture production in those areas and the poultry industry, so it will inform some of the decision making we have around that,” said Governor John Carney.

Officials add things like rising sea levels and water contamination are reasons why the quality of water in the state has dipped.

“Delaware faces significant challenges with water,” said Dr. Kent Messer, principal investigator.

“Unfortunately, 92 percent of our waterways in the state are classified as impaired, and all the time this past year we heard problems with drinking water in cities and rural areas,” said Messer.

That is why millions of dollars will now go to major projects at universities across Delaware to come up with solutions that will do a better job at protecting our water.

“It’s really important for both the present and the future of the state to make sure that we have that kind of workforce and those kinds of assets in our institutions of higher education, so it’s a big deal,” said Carney.

And, project leaders at Delaware State University add it is crucial states like Delaware quickly come up with ideas that will keep our water safe.

“We’re concerned that this is going to change for the worst with sea level rise, the change in salinization, so we believe we need to have a better scientific understanding of the threats and the scientific understanding of solutions,” said Messer.

As to how this new research work, University officials said during the first few years hundreds of students will learn about potential threats to Delaware’s water, like a rise in sea levels. Then, solutions will be proposed to government leaders and non-profits.

But, another part of this research grant will help prepare Delaware’s water plants for possible terrorist attacks.

According to Messer, because of new technology, these facilities are vulnerable to cyber security threats. He said sensors could be hacked into, which could make drinking water unsafe.

“We working closely with the water utilities and the state to make sure that those plants that keep our water clean, especially for drinking water aren’t vulnerable to cyber attacks and to make sure staff understand the kind of activity that’s out there,” said Messer.

Carney said these projects will also help to bring more companies and jobs to the state, which would in turn improve the economy.

Officials also said, 600 students and faculty members at universities will also get an additional $3.8 million dollars in these coming years to support this initiative.

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