St. George’s Allied Research Institute Studies Nearby Grenada Bay Water Quality

Despite its designation as a marine protected area, Clarke’s Court Bay in Woburn, a short drive from St. George’s University’s True Blue campus in Grenada, may be negatively impacted by watershed effluent runoff. To begin to address the situation, The Nature Conservancy, a worldwide organization devoted to grassroots environmental projects, awarded the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation (WINDREF) a grant to assess the water quality and develop a plan that will serve as an archetype for regional cleanup efforts of this nature.

“Our main goal is to find sources of pollution and document current water quality in Woburn Bay, engage with community stakeholders, and record the lessons learned during the process,” said Dr. Randall Waechter, WINDREF Research Grants Coordinator at the non-profit organization. “We hope to providesa template for assessing water quality throughout the Eastern Caribbean.”

In the coming months, the research team will gather baseline data in the water quality in the bay, examining the watershed to identify the sources of effluent runoff from Clarke’s Court Distillery and other facilities. It will conduct laboratory water quality testing while also assessing the bay’s marine life, including corals and sea grasses. In addition, the research team hopes to engage with the community for water monitoring for data such as temperature, pH level, and salinity. The final product will be an evidence-based water quality improvement plan for the protected Woburn/Clarke’s Court Bay.

“We have all the components to complete this task,” said Dr. Waechter. “It’s just a matter of bringing all the pieces together.”

The St. George’s University research team assigned to the project includes Dr. Waechter, Dr. Svetlana Kotelnikova, Professor, Department of Microbiology; Dr. Hugh Sealy, Director of the Environmental and Occupational Health Track in the Department of Public Health; and Dr. Clare Morrall, Director of Marine Biology. In addition, several University graduates – Karla Farmer, Jerry Mitchell, Curllan Bholla, Danielle Ince, Ezra Campbell, and Makeda Matthew – are involved in the project.

The Nature Conservancy grant follows on the heels of a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service to the University to launch a leadership training program for young conservationists. The program aims to jumpstart the careers of young professionals to lead the Caribbean region toward establishing and maintaining healthy, functional ecosystems, and will also involve numerous graduates of the University’s marine, wildlife, and conservation biology program.