Grant Helps Professor in New Approach to Assessing Water Contamination

MELBOURNE, FLA. — Florida Tech Professor of Environmental Science, Thomas Belanger, has received a $55,000 grant from the South Florida Water Management
District (SFWMD) for a new approach to studying groundwater nitrogen loading from septic tanks. The study will take place in the St. Lucie Estuary near the
Martin and St. Lucie County line.
Belanger’s unusual approach is to examine stable isotope ratios in the groundwater and in shoreline rooted aquatic plant material downstream from
individual septic tanks. The studies should determine the relative contributions and the importance of fecal contamination by humans and animals. Higher
relate to human and animal waste; lower ratios are typical of fertilizer and nitrogen fixation.
“The nitrogen isotope approach, if reliable, would be simpler, faster and more cost effective approach than other techniques,” said Belanger. “The project
should help resolve reasons for the frequent episodes of poor water quality and elevated fecal coliform bacteria recently occurring in the St. Lucie
Working with Belanger on the project is Thomas L. Price Jr., a Florida Tech doctoral student in environmental science.
Belanger earned a doctoral degree in Environmental Engineering Sciences from the University of Florida in 1979. He is a member of the North American Lake
Management Society, American Water Resources Association and the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography.

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