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An Oklahoma high school graduate whose research focused on phosphate pollution of water was named the U.S. winner of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize and will compete this month with student finalists from 29 other countries to win the international prize.
Brandon Fimple received his award in Denver earlier this summer for his project—"The Effects of Salicylic Acid Treated Poultry Litter on Forage Production, Run-off Water Phosphate Levels, and Closterium Algae Growth, "analyzing agricultural practices related to phosphate pollution in North America." The Vinita, Okla., student edged out 40 state SJWP representatives.
Fimple's three-year study was based on an effort to find an environmentally protective litter treatment with effective algaecide properties. Eutrophication resulting from phosphate pollution is one of the most costly water quality problems in North America.
"Phosphorous pollution has been an extremely hot topic of debate in Northeast Oklahoma," and has resulted in a serious drinking water pollution problem for Tulsa's watersheds, Fimple said.
"Northeast Oklahoma produces more than 200 million broilers each year, resulting in more than 80 x 106 tons (7.3 x 109 kg) of litter. There have been many heated discussions between homeowners and poultry producers in my area about the establishment of more poultry houses," he said.
Fimple adapted an experiment his sister Lindsey had conducted showing that adding salicylic acid directly to poultry litter runoff water worked very well.
"I wanted to see if it was still an effective algaecide when it was used as a poultry litter treatment," he said. "Although my area of study is not water quality related, it still pertains to making the world a healthier place. Winning the National Stockholm Junior Water Prize has taught me to never underestimate what the future may hold for me."
Fimple plans to study nutritional sciences and specialize in food product development at the Oklahoma State University, where he has received two freshman research scholarships.
The international winner will receive $5,000 and a blue crystal sculpture in the shape of a water droplet at the awards ceremony in Stockholm August 17 during World Water Week, August 15-21. This year's theme of the water symposium, August 16-21, is Drainage Basin Management, featuring several workshops.
The Stockholm International Water Institute and ITT Industries have been sponsoring the competition since 1995, encouraging students to become involved in water and science issues. The state and national awards recognize students in the United States and abroad for excellence in water science research and their dedication to improving the water environment.
Many finalists have made demonstrable improvements in their communities by contributing their research to officials responsible for the health of the local water environment. Though just one individual or group wins the international award each year, many young people win national prizes and become water industry professionals.