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CSREES Funds Water Quality Campaign to Protect the Chesapeake Bay

News Release

Jennifer Martin, CSREES Staff, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, April 26, 2007 – Homeowners throughout the Chesapeake Bay region can make a significant impact in protecting the bay, according to a new educational campaign by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Water Quality Program (MAWQP), which is funded by the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES).

MAWQP partnered with the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments to create the “Healthy Lawns, Clean Water” campaign to educate homeowners about proper fertilizer application techniques to reduce nutrient loss.

“Every one of us can help protect the environment, and it starts in our own backyards,” said Gale Buchanan, USDA under secretary for Research, Education and Economics. “This campaign leverages the power of the Cooperative Extension System and Land-Grant University System research to educate local homeowners with the best available science-based solutions for keeping the environment clean.”

The campaign encourages homeowners to do their part in protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It notes that individual actions make a difference in improving local water quality and the health of the bay. Advertisements in major media outlets in the bay area, public service announcements and public speaking opportunities promote seven simple lawn care techniques that can help protect and improve water quality. The seven steps include:

  1. If applying fertilizer in the spring, do so after the grass is actively growing.
  2. Apply fertilizer at the spreader setting shown on the bag.
  3. Sweep fertilizer off hard surfaces to prevent it from entering storm sewers.
  4. Keep grass clippings, tree leaves and pet waste off hard surfaces to prevent them from entering the storm sewer.
  5. Mow at the highest lawn mower setting.
  6. Leave grass clippings on the lawn to improve its health and quality.
  7. Fall is the best time to fertilize your lawn for quickly improved vigor and a healthier, greener lawn next spring.

Research confirms that healthy and properly maintained landscapes can have a positive impact on the environment by preventing soil erosion and absorbing rainfall. The campaign is designed around the premise that homeowners can follow certain simple steps to protect the environment while nurturing their lawn or garden.

CSREES funded the MAWQP through its National Integrated Water Quality Program. Regional coordination efforts are a major component of this competitive grant program and focus on solving today's water problems by bringing together university extension, research and education professionals. These unique partnerships enhance response to regional and local issues.

The nine universities participating in MAWQP include University of Delaware, Delaware State University, University of the District of Columbia, University of Maryland, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Pennsylvania State University, Virginia State University, Virginia Tech and West Virginia University.

CSREES advances knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations. For more information, visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov.