2nd Place Gulf Guardian Winners
2nd Place Business/Industry
Martin Ecosystems, LLC
Baton Rouge, LA
The BioHaven• Floating Treatment Wetland (BFTW) project at Elayn Hunt Correctional was done to determine how this new innovative water treatment tool could remove unwanted nutrients from wastewater prior to discharge to the environment. The BFTW accomplished this goal and in addition has helped the wastewater treatment facility achieve and maintain compliance with their permit. In the five years prior to the implementation of this project and launching of the BFTWs into the wastewater system, the facility had an average of 10 noncompliance reports. Following the installation of BFTWs non-compliance events have been reduced to 1 or less per year.
BFTWs also have demonstrated the ability to remove 74% of Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), 35% of Ammonia, and 29% of Phosphate. Dissolved oxygen has also improved in the pond. Nutrient impact to downstream organisms and the environment has been greatly reduced.
BFTW Technology is designed around the same principles as a naturally occurring wetland. The man-made “floating islands” provide an optimal habitat for microbial and plant species. Similar to a wetland, the plants and microbes improve water quality. Unlike natural wetlands, they offer enhanced microbial growth by expanding available underwater surface area; i.e. microbial habitat. The result is a new and strategic means to achieve a concentrated wetland effect. Along with the nutrient removal processes, BFTWs also provide ancillary benefits for water treatment. They immediately increase retention time as the flow of water is “redirected” through or around the BFTWs and the physical embodiment of the BFTWs also physically traps solids within the water column.
2nd Place Youth Environmental Education
Oppe Elementary Campus of Coastal Studies
Since 2010, Oppe Elementary School has implemented a Coastal Studies program which infuses coastal concepts with standard curriculum. Students create detailed products that showcase their knowledge of a variety of coastal topics through two main events that are hosted at their school. These events are Ocean Discovery Night and Coastal Carnival which allow the students to show their families and the community what they are studying about in the classroom and Science Lab. Located on Galveston Island, this program utilizes a variety of resources that island living has to offer. Students are exposed to eco-field trips that promote restoration of habitats such as the sand dunes and wetlands. On a weekly rotation students attend Science Lab which gives them a chance to learn about wetlands, marine life, conservation, and fascinating features about the ocean through hands-on experiences. By partnering with a variety of organizations such as Texas A&M Galveston, Artist Boat, Texas Parks and Wildlife, NOAA, Moody Gardens, The Galveston Bay Foundation, and several others it allows for experts to share their knowledge with the students through presentations and field trips.
Students and the community are made aware of how they can help protect and be good stewards of the island through participating in service learning projects such as our Adopt-a- Beach cleanups and campus garden parties that teach families about native plants. Oppe’s Green Team recently wrote a Bill that has been submitted to the Texas House of Representatives by Craig Eiland which designates that the Kemp Ridley Sea Turtle become the official sea turtle of Texas. At Oppe the students are encouraged to be lifelong learners about the environment around them.
2nd Place Environmental Justice/Cultural Diversity
Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese-American Fisher Folks and Families
The MSCVAFF Coastal Restoration: Education and Community Engagement Project promotes community education and empowerment with a particular focus on engagement in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) and the Coastal Restoration process in Mississippi. As a result of the BP Oil Spill’s devastating impact to the ecosystem, fisheries and other natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico, Vietnamese-American fisher folks expressed their likelihood of being able to continue fishing as one of their primary concerns. In 2011, to start addressing this community priority, MSCVAFF initiated the above referenced community education and empowerment program with a particular focus on engagement in NRDA and the Coastal Restoration process in Mississippi. MSCVAFF utilized the important strategy of grassroots organizing to influence policy. MSCVAFF increased and strengthened efforts to conduct targeted outreach, addressed language access needs, and organized a series of focus groups/ community meetings for the purpose of helping fisher folks become more educated on the coastal restoration process and its critical link to their livelihoods.
In 2012, MSCVAFF continued its outreach efforts and over 80 Vietnamese-American fisher folks attended a NRDA/ Early Coastal Restoration training that MSCVAFF helped facilitate. They provided both translated materials and simultaneous interpretation by qualified interpreters. With the aid of MSCVAFF staff, the fisher folks were provided a forum to conceptualize project ideas (e.g., shrimp aquaculture and oyster farming) that could potentially be considered for a coastal restoration selection project and ultimately implemented. Soon thereafter over 50 fisher folks attended a series of Early Coastal Restoration public meetings in each of the coastal counties. As a result of MSCVAFF’s organized forums and focus groups on Phase 1of Mississippi’s Draft Early Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (DERP/ EA), over 170 comments were submitted to the Federal Council of Trustees as well as the to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), the State NRDA trustee for Mississippi.
2nd Place Civic/Non-Profit
Are You an Eco-Hero?
The Eco-Hero project is the first product to communicate the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Priority Issues to the public in a fun, interactive way. The Eco-Hero game benefits a broad community, including millions of residents and visitors to the Gulf of Mexico. The data integrated into the game (e.g., oceanographic and meteorological conditions, water quality, ecosystem services, natural and anthropogenic stressors to the GOM, community resilience), incorporates the value and need for research, monitoring, and careful management of the Gulf’s living and non-living natural resources. Using ‘Super Seagrass’ as nurseries and ‘good neighborhoods,’ players explore how their everyday lives and livelihoods are connected to the GOM and how their choices and actions affect the health of the Gulf and its human and non-human residents.
2nd Place Individual
Dr. Chuanmin Hu
St. Petersburg, FL
Prof. Chuanmin Hu has contributed significantly to maintaining a healthy Gulf of Mexico in the past decade. These achievements include: 1) > 50 refereed articles on Gulf of Mexico water quality (e.g., oil spills) and algae blooms (e.g., red tides) to assist management decision support; 2) establishment of cutting-edge online tools, including a Virtual Antenna System (VAS) and a Virtual Buoy System (VBS), to share water quality information with various stakeholders in near real-time; 3) working with various state agencies and environmental groups to address water quality problems; 4) extensive education/outreach activity to increase public awareness of the Gulf of Mexico water quality state.
Professor Hu is truly motivated to help sustain a healthy Gulf. What is exceptional is that in addition to his normal duties at USF, he is dedicated to helping the community through education and outreach as well as through working with stakeholders and providing customized data products and timely information. Such information on red tides, Sargassum, and oil spills has helped various user groups to develop improved strategies to monitor or adapt to these events or mitigate their adverse impacts. The data products have also been useful in aiding numeric nutrient criteria development for coastal waters by Florida Department of Environmental Protection and EPA.
2nd Place Bi-National
Corpus Christi, TX
Gulf 360 is a one-stop document and searchable geospatial database that focuses on the coastal socioeconomic characteristics of the Gulf of Mexico. Gulf 360 is the first effort that encompasses socioeconomic data from the three countries in the Gulf of Mexico (Cuba, Mexico, United States) and can act as a benchmark for future analysis. The output can be used by the private sector, non-governmental organizations, academics, and government entities in order to make more effective decisions by incorporating socioeconomic information. Gulf 360 was developed by the Harte Research Institute in collaboration with the Centro de Especialistas en Gestión Ambiental, Mexico.
2nd Place Partnerships
Hampton, VA and Stennis Space Center, MS
NASA DEVELOP is a capacity-building program engaging students to utilize NASA Earth observations to address community environmental concerns. DEVELOP interns at NASA’s Stennis Space Center established a partnership with local nonprofit organizations to provide analysis and recommendations for suitable planting sites for bald cypress trees in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. As a result, partners are currently using this analysis, instead of their previous subjective methods, to direct the spring 2013 planting of 6,000 saplings. Through this ongoing collaboration, DEVELOP and partners are discussing including results in the Parish’s master plan and extending the methodology to determine mangroves planting sites.