News

Headwater Health: Davidson Gets Water Resources Fund Grant

Brad Johnson
Brad Johnson

Davidson College has been named among 13 organizations in North and South Carolina to share more than $1 million in new grants from the Duke Energy Water Resources Fund.

The fund is a $10 million, multiyear commitment from Duke Energy to improve local water quality by helping nonprofits protect and improve the environment, including waterways used year-round across the Carolinas and neighboring states.

The Davidson project, funded at $55,410, will increase understanding of the connections among discharge, chemistry and ecology in first-order Piedmont streams. Bradley Johnson, assistant professor of environmental studies and Chris Paradise, professor of biology will lead study of the impact of water quantity and chemistry on aquatic ecosystems in headwater streams of the Rocky River and McDowell watersheds.

Student researchers on the project will develop their findings into interdisciplinary capstone projects and honors theses. The grant will provide funding for equipment used by student researchers.

"Undergraduate research experiences deepen students' understanding of natural systems and lead to articles published in peer-reviewed journals. Our research, and the resulting publications, will increase our understanding of how ecosystems impacted by storm water runoff function," Johnson said. "This is extremely important both locally and nationally as more money is spent on stream restoration."

While all of the research stations will be located in Mecklenburg County, the team's findings will be relevant to downstream areas in other counties and states.

Lasting Impact

(l-r) David Fountain, Duke Energy State President, North Carolina; Brad Johnson, assistant professor of environmental studies; and Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy State President, South Carolina
(l-r) David Fountain, Duke Energy State President, North Carolina; Brad Johnson, assistant professor of environmental studies; and Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy State President, South Carolina

The Water Resources Fund was announced in September 2014 and included eight seed grants. Fifteen inaugural grants were made in March 2015. Recipients are selected by an independent body that includes five environmental experts and two Duke Energy employees.

"Local organizations are vital to protecting waterways across the Carolinas," said Shawn Heath, vice president of The Duke Energy Foundation and community affairs. "Already, we're seeing good things happen due to this fund, including a new nature preserve that recently opened in Wake County and a streambank that was restored in Watauga County. These are projects that will have a lasting impact on the environment for decades to come."

The Duke Energy Foundation [duke-energy.com/foundation] provides philanthropic support to address the needs vital to the health of its communities. Annually, the foundation funds more than $25 million in charitable grants, with a focus on education, environment, economic and workforce development, and community impact.