LEE COUNTY, Fla. — A year after Hurricane Ian and with the flooding Idlaia brought, Florida Gulf Coast University students apart of the American Water Resources Association (ARWA) are studying flood mitigation.
The student chapter is focusing on water management.
"Freshwater is one of the most limited resources that we have on this planet," said AWRA student Henna Gavem.
She says many animals depend on it, including frogs and alligators.
Henna Gavem is the president of the student chapter at FGCU. She says fertilizer creeps into waterways and eventually suffocates the creatures living in it.
"We are looking at quantifying the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous from specifically reclaimed water," Gavem said.
Samantha Grisso is a researcher with the club who get hands-on experience every day, monitoring how much the water on campus rises and falls.
"Myself and a big group of students, it takes a lot of us to do this, we monitor the hydrology," Grisso said. "That includes ponds, groundwater, and our surrounding wetlands."
The university's professor of water resources, Dawn Duke, is taking a look at why flooding happens to the degree it does here in southwest Florida.
"Most communities don't have nearly that much land to preserve an open space so when flooding happens it's because we've changed the land use so extremely in South Florida and used the wetlands for other purposes," Duke said.
He says ponds do not work well for flood mitigation, rather FGCU'S acres of surrounding wetlands take on water runoff, painting a picture for just how important preserving the wetlands is.
His students are taking home an award for best student chapter nationwide, and now hosting others, interested in the process through wet walks.
"Campus does wet walks especially for colloquium and they go with experienced naturalists," FGCU's student chapter of AWRA member Jordan Strunk said.