A RECENT ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals may provide more time to complete research into the best ways to improve water quality in Louisiana, according to an official with the LSU AgCenter.

On July 9 the appeals court reversed a lower court order for federal regulators to address the cleanup of all Louisiana's impaired water bodies within seven years.

Paul Coreil, assistant director for environmental programs in the LSU AgCenter, said the appeals court's decision may lead to a new timetable for reducing maximum daily loads of targeted pollutants and give rural landowners and municipalities more time to establish land use practices that will significantly reduce pollutants coming off their lands.

“This could give us more time to get results from our research programs,” Coreil said, explaining that the LSU AgCenter is evaluating best management practices for forest lands and agricultural crop land. “We want to know at what level these best management practices are most effective and economically feasible.”

Coreil said the LSU AgCenter also is evaluating the effects of potential assessment and incentive programs that could be included in the 2002 farm bill now being developed in Congress.

“With more time, we will have the opportunity to be better prepared, to establish protocols and to establish environmental stewardship plans in agricultural and forest production,” he said. “The earlier timetable caused consternation among farmers and forest landowners.”

Coreil added that in the time since federal district judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon issued her initial ruling two years ago, the LSU AgCenter has evaluated and developed additional research data on agricultural and forest management practices and the effects those practices have on water quality.

“We hope the new ruling will allow us to collect much-needed information,” Coreil said. “The LSU AgCenter is in a position to provide research and educational information to help address the agricultural and forestry water quality challenge.”