The LSU AgCenter is hiring four new faculty members who will be statewide water experts based at the Red River Research Station in Bossier City.
The new positions include an irrigation engineer, a water quality scientist, a plant soil scientist and a water policy economist.
According to the LSU AgCenter's northwest region director Patrick Colyer, the decision to base this water resource team in the northwest part of the state was due to the prevalence of water issues here, including the depletion of aquifers like the Sparta, the frequency of drought, industry demands in the fracking process of natural gas drilling, and urban sprawl that’s put new stresses on water systems.
Colyer said the Red River Research Station has a constructed wetlands demonstration pond built a decade ago to help clean the runoff from the station's 490 acres of farming operations.
"We started talking more specifically about maybe the station should be revamped to address water issues, and because we had the constructed wetlands here, and we had a little bit of infrastructure already in place, it seemed like a logical location for it," Colyer said.
Colyer thinks that Louisiana farmers will appreciate this new emphasis on water issues because they have questions about managing irrigation and the new faculty will be tasked with helping farmers make wise decisions in their water use.
“Most ag producers care about the environment because that’s how they make their living. What we want to try to do is provide research-based information to help them make good decisions and smart choices to reduce that impact on water quality in the U.S.” Colyer said.
Colyer said a nationwide search began last spring and the water quality scientist will be on the job Feb. 1. He hopes to complete the hiring process for all positions by the end of the month. He said the funding for these new positions was made possible through attrition within the LSU AgCenter.