The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that Texas A&M University will receive over $198,000 in a cooperative agreement for the project “Use of Seawater Electrolysis to Build Artificial Reef Habitat: Comparison with Traditional Shell Reefs.” Dr. Paul Zimba, Director, Center for Coastal Studies of Texas A&M University, will lead the project.

“The Gulf of Mexico Program is committed to supporting our partners in addressing mutual goals of improving, protecting and restoring the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico,” Ben Scaggs, Director of the U.S. EPA Gulf of Mexico Program said. “We look forward to the sustainable environmental results that will be accomplished through this cooperative agreement with Texas A&M University.”

“The ability to enhance existing restoration efforts by using artificial reef construction methods will provide another tool to increase hard-bottom habitat,” said Dr. Zimba. “Texas estuaries had millions of oyster shells removed in the 1900s; this removal has altered the functionality of these systems.  The development of new hard-bottom habitat will provide habitat suitable for oyster growth and expansion.”

The result from this project will be enhanced (restored) ability of the ecosystem to maintain watershed level quality of coastal and ocean waters by reducing net nutrient export to the sea. The project approach will be to build an oyster test bed from artificial and rubble reef in Corpus Christi Bay. The project will use electrolysis to grow new sea-bed habitat to encourage development of aquatic life that will filter overlying water (Heck and Valentine 2007).

This cooperative agreement will further the strategic goals and objectives of EPA’s Gulf of Mexico Program and lead to a healthy and prosperous ecosystem for generations to come.

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