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By Sascha Medina

On April 7, the North Carolina Collaboratory, in partnership with the UNC Institute for the Environment and the Upper Neuse River Basin Association, hosted a research symposium focused on the Falls Lake Study.

In 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly charged UNC-Chapel Hill to oversee a Nutrient Management Study of Jordan and Falls Lake that would identify nutrient management strategies and solutions to improve water quality. The Jordan Lake portion of the study was completed in 2019, and the research team started work on Falls Lake in 2020. This comprehensive research study is divided into the following broad areas: natural science research, stakeholder & community engagement, policy & finance implications and modeling efforts.

Attended by researchers and stakeholders across the state, the symposium provided an update on the ongoing studies and the re-examination of the Falls Lake Nutrient Management Strategy. Creating and emphasizing the importance of an open dialogue, the symposium asked for feedback and possible research gaps throughout the program.

Notably, Dr. Greer Arthur, the Collaboratory’s research director, opened the event, and her remarks highlighted the inclusion of all levels of academia in the ongoing research, including undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty. “This study serves as a brilliant example of how research can not only serve the local community, but also provide students with the training they need to advance their careers in North Carolina, which is a key priority for the Collaboratory,” said Arthur.

Divided into three sessions, the event covered research on:

  1. in-lake processes
  2. watershed processes
  3. stakeholder engagement, financing, and future work

At the end of each session, Q&As took place for each research update, and, in between each session, attendees were asked to answer the following questions:

  • Session 1: What implications do these findings have for managing nutrients in Falls Lake?
  • Session 2: Do these findings change your perception of the current Falls Lake Nutrient Management Strategy
  • Session 3: Which financing approaches are best suited for implementation in the Falls Lake watershed? How should these new findings shape policy with regards to nutrient management in Falls Lake?

The answers provided will be reviewed by the research teams to guide future actions.

For more information about the Falls Lake Study read this recent article: As Part of the Collaboratory’s Falls Lake Study Researchers are Examining Algal Bloom Dynamics and visit the UNC Nutrient Management Study website.

Sascha Medina is in her last year of a five-year dual degree program in science communication. She is currently working towards her M.A. in Strategic Communication at the UNC-Chapel Hill Hussman School of Journalism and Media.

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