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University of Florida study aims to reduce nutrients in Manatee County ponds

Researchers with the University of Florida are using stormwater ponds in Manatee County to see if plants can help control nitrogen and phosphorus.

The university's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is using a four-year, $197,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund the research. If the results find plants beneficial, researchers hope to educate residents and businesses statewide to install plant buffers along stormwater ponds as best practice.

As stormwater flows into these ponds, it can bring excess nutrients that are harmful to the environment. The pollutants stem from fertilizer, yard debris and pet waste.

Basil Iannone, an assistant professor of urban landscape ecology and lead researcher on the project, said in a press release that if successful, the project could serve as a model to improve stormwater ponds across the state.