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Finalists for Grants to Improve the Gulf of Mexico Include The Nature Conservancy In Tennessee

Release Date: 12/18/2008
Contact Information: Davina Marraccini, (404) 562-8293,

(ATLANTA – Dec. 18, 2008) A total of $3.7 million is available to help selected organizations reduce pollutants that contribute to the oxygen-depleted zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The 10 finalists, including The Nature Conservancy in Nashville, Tenn., will support agricultural conservation measures, restore wetlands and riverbanks, monitor water quality, and create a variety of innovative, market-based programs to improve water quality.

"This seed money will grow innovative, cost-effective solutions to speed up the cleanup of impaired watersheds in the Mississippi River Watershed and cut the size of the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water.

These projects under EPA’s Targeted Watersheds Grants Program will reduce the sources of pollutants, including runoff from developed land, soil erosion, agricultural fertilizers, and sewage and industrial discharges. Parts or all of 31 states drain into the watershed that flows into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Nature Conservancy plans to determine if market-based approaches, including water quality trading, for wetlands restoration are feasible in three Tennessee rivers located in the Lower Mississippi River Basin: the Lower Hatchie, the Loosahatchie and the Wolf. The project will calculate the credit demand of potential buyers and estimate the credit supply from potential sellers for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediments. Modeling will estimate the effects of contaminant removal on the Lower Mississippi River and the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

The other finalist organizations are:

• Conservation Technology and Information Center (West Lafayette, Ind.) for the Wabash River Watershed
• Electric Power Research Institute (Palo Alto, Calif.) for the Ohio River Basin
• Iowa State University (Ames, Iowa) for the Raccoon River Watershed, Walnut Creek Watershed, and Boone River Watershed
• The Miami Conservancy District (Dayton, Ohio) for the Great Miami River Watershed
• The Ohio State University -(Columbus, Ohio) for the Upper Scioto Watershed
• The Wetlands Initiative (Chicago) for the Lower Illinois River-Lake Senachwine Watershed
• University of Kentucky (Lexington, Ky.) for the Green River Watershed and Kentucky River Watershed
• West Virginia University (Morgantown, W. Va.) for the Kanawha River Watershed
• World Resource Institute (Washington, D.C.) for the Ohio River Basin, Upper Mississippi River Basin and Lower Mississippi River Basin

Since its establishment in 2002, EPA’s Targeted Watersheds Grant Program has encouraged successful community-based approaches to protect and restore the nation's watersheds. Watershed health is important to providing clean, safe water where Americans live, work and play. To date, more than $55 million has been provided through targeted watersheds grants.

More information on EPA’s Targeted Watersheds Grant Program:

More information on the Gulf of Mexico: