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Western uses grant to clean up local water resource

WCSU students and faculty are working with the community to start cleaning up the water and restore balance to Danbury’s Lake Kenosia. Dr. Theodora Pinou, WCSU associate professor of biology and environmental sciences, and environmental consultant Jack Kozuchowski said that the lake suffers from low oxygen, invasive plants and periodic algal blooms.

The university received a $45,000 grant from the Connecticut Institute of Water Resources and $9,000 in donor contributions to conduct testing to determine what and how many nutrients are being loaded into the water after a rainfall. Pinou, Kozuchowski, and two graduate biology students will collect approximately 12 water samples after substantial rainfalls and then send them to a testing laboratory. This baseline study will continue until January. Pinou hopes to apply for a separate grant for storm drains to alleviate water runoff.

“With runoff in a developed area, you tend to get nutrient-loading in the water,” Pinou said. Decaying plant material, phosphates from detergents and nitrates wash into the water during heavy rainfall. “We know it’s a problem because we’re not finding the diversity that used to be in Lake Kenosia. Certain fish and the diversity of amphibians and reptiles should be there. A lot of non-native plant life is now colonizing the lake.”

WCSU graduate students Nicole Stiteler of Newburgh, N.Y., and Aaron Ferraro of Brentwood, N.H., are eager to get involved with this hands-on research. “I hope that this study actually leads to improved storm water treatment for the lake,” Ferraro said. “On a personal level, one benefit of the project is that it’s great to get these ‘workplace’ skills. This internship will allow me to keep my skills sharp while taking classes and looking for employment where I put my experiences to use.”

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Clockwise from top:
(l-r): WCSU graduate students Nicole Stiteler, of Newburgh, N.Y., and Aaron Ferraro, of Brentwood, N.H., work together to gather a water sample; Associate Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Dora Pinou examines a sample; (l-r): Ferraro and environmental consultant Jack Kozuchowski work at the collection site.