FGCU expands to provide the tools to combat blue-green algae, dead fish

Dead fish washing up on our beaches was a scene all too common last year. Now, Florida Gulf Coast University is making sure the next generation of researchers have the tools they need to solve the problem.

Solving the water crisis begins with education, which is why FGCU created the Water School. Students can focus on different areas of research, these include climate change, ecosystem health, well being, natural resources and restoration.

When classes are not being held outside, students will be immersed in labs held in a brand new building dedicated to water research, which will bring in top scientists from across the globe.

“We all have an inherent need for this water and to be able to take care of it we’re going to everyone from every discipline every background,” said Kai Sacco, an FGCU student.

“The truth is the real problems that we face are incredibly complex and they’re only going to be solved if we’re able to get out of those boxes and work together,” said Dr. Win Everham, FGCU professor of Environmental Studies.

To solve those problems, FGCU is giving researchers the tools to combat the blue-green algae and dead fish that affected businesses on the water earlier this year. Businesses along the beach were directly affected by the quality of water.

This time last summer, many of these establishments struggled to make ends meet. FGCU is changing the tide and the main goals to preserve and protect the water. The new water school will attract professionals from all various industries — science, business and engineering.

The university said a lot of its students end up staying in Southwest Florida to teach others, helping conduct research or even start their own businesses. One professor said the quality of our water would drive the Southwest Florida economy.

“The growth that we’re going to see in our economy in the next decade or two is going to have to depend on the availability of clean water,” said Dr. Shelton Weeks, chair of the Dept. of Economics and Finance at FGCU. “When we think about water it really touches every part of our economy.”

Reporter:Janae Muchmore
Writer:Michael Mora
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