FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2016
CHICAGO – The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (Compact Council) on Tuesday approved the Great Lakes water diversion application forwarded by the State of Wisconsin and submitted by the City of Waukesha, Wisconsin, subject to conditions required by the Compact Council.
The application sought an exception to the Great Lakes Compact’s ban on the diversion of water from the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin (Basin). The City of Waukesha is a community in a county that straddles the basin divide, one of three potential bases for obtaining an exception to the Compact’s ban on diversions.
The Compact Council, which is composed of the Governors of the eight states bordering the Great Lakes, voted without dissent to approve with conditions the diversion of an annual average day demand of 8.2 million gallons of water from Lake Michigan to the City of Waukesha and required Waukesha to return an equal volume of water to the Lake Michigan watershed. The treated wastewater returned to the Basin will be required to meet Clean Water Act water quality discharge standards.
The Compact Council resolution to approve the diversion incorporated a series of conditions established in the “Declaration of Finding” issued last month by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Governors’ and Premiers’ Regional Body, which includes the eight Governors and the Premiers of Ontario and Québec.
Waukesha’s original application request was for 10.1 MGD to serve an expanded service area, including several neighboring towns. The Compact Council approval contains a series of conditions including:
· reducing the amount approved to 8.2 million MGD;
· limiting the service area to the city’s current area serviced and town islands;
· continuing implementation and enforcement of Waukesha’s water conservation and efficiency plan with the goal of a 10 percent demand reduction;
· implementing a comprehensive pharmaceutical and personal care products recycling program and encourage reduction of those products into wastewater; and
· submitting public annual reports that document the daily, monthly and annual amounts of water diverted and returned to Lake Michigan.
Waukesha is the only community to have requested a “straddling county” diversion since state and federal law established the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact in 2008. The Compact governs how the states work together to manage and protect the Basin. The law allows for consideration of limited exceptions to the ban on diversions, including for public water supply purposes to communities close to but outside the Basin divide.
The City of Waukesha submitted its original application to the State of Wisconsin in 2010, and Wisconsin forwarded Waukesha’s revised application to the Regional Body and Compact Council on Jan. 7, 2016. On the same day, the Regional Body and Compact Council launched a website (www.WaukeshaDiversion.org) to provide the public with information about the application and to accept comments. A two-month public comment period on the application began on January 12 and ended on March 14, and during that time over 11,000 comments were received from the public.
On February 17, the members of the Regional Body and Compact Council toured sites related to the diversion application and asked questions of the City of Waukesha in a public forum. On February 18, the members of the Regional Body and Compact Council convened a meeting with Tribes and First Nations, followed by a public hearing at Carroll University in Waukesha. On April 21 and 22 and May 10 and 11, the Regional Body discussed the application in public meetings held at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Two conference call webinars, also open to the public, were conducted May 2 and 18 when the Regional Body concluded its deliberations and approved the Declaration of Finding.
The Compact Council’s approval of the application with conditions allows the State of Wisconsin to proceed with its regulatory decision-making and permitting for the diversion as conditioned by the Compact Council’s action.
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CONTACT: Peter Johnson
(312) 407-0177 (office)
(312) 305-4133 (mobile)
Shahram Missaghi, PhD
Extension Educator, University of Minnesota
Human activity on the landscape has drastically changed the natural hydrologic cycle by concentrating much of the output into surface water as excessive runoff. Some consequences of excessive runoff are flash flooding, loss of property and significant water quality degradation. Since the 1980s, a national effort called green infrastructure has focused on remedying the problem by providing a series of tools to minimize the impact of our developments by mimicking natural hydrology. Recently, there has been expanded and rapid growth in the number of publicly available stormwater educational programs for professionals and communities that focus on green infrastructure tools (referred to as best management practices). However, much of the growth is home based and addresses specific local needs and issues. Until now, a publicly available, uniform and comprehensive stormwater core curriculum has been missing. A collaborative group of stormwater educators have led the effort to develop a program to address this need.
Building the collaborations:
A network of collaborative group of stormwater educators from across the country was created to develop such educational program as described above. The group met regularly to identify the theme, specific topics, and the best delivery methods for the proposed curriculum. The collaborative also identified the specific topics (such as design of stormwater practices vs. their construction), the necessary level of knowledge, and the appropriate audience for the specific topic.
A pilot test was conducted, June 2015. Project partners were involved in compiling a list of potential individuals representing the identified targeted audience to participate in the pilot test. The pilot testers were invited (email) to participate having been asked to take the course and complete a survey to record their experience and to share comments about the course. Feedback was received from five pilot testers (N=5) and was used to refine the course once more. The subsequent changes in the course were significant enough that it compelled us to conduct another set of pilot testers (N=6). The current course reflects all the changes and the course has been well received by recent users.
A formative evaluation of the curriculum will be required from the participants upon their completion of the curriculum prior to issuance of a certificate of completion. Participant attendance and progress will be monitored. Subsequent use of course materials for training at local offices or larger events will be tracked and evaluated to measure project impact.
Promotions: we will be at the 2016 ANREP delivering a 30 min presentation on the purpose of the Core Curriculum, how folks can get involved with NCRWN Stormwater Community; and sharing the process (story) of how the core curriculum got developed. Soon, we will also have an updated poster that we can share with our partners to present/post at various events and functions.
Future: We have monthly teleconferences on the second Tuesday at 9:00 am, and all are welcome to attend – just email us for telemeting instructions
Impact: We all have learned much from participating in developing the core curriculum and have been able to apply these learning in other areas as well. For example, recently, we (MN Extension) had applied for an EPA education grant – where much of the grant outline was based on our learning from developing the core curriculum. Particularly, we duplicated the development process from the core curriculum project.
By: Joe Bonnell
I’m going to use the opportunity of this month’s Leadership Spotlight to highlight a new project at The Ohio State University that represents a new collaboration between OSU Extension and the Ohio Water Resources Center in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering.
In the past several years in Ohio and in some respects, globally, harmful algal blooms (HABs) have become more frequent and have garnered the attention of the popular media. In Ohio, the harmful algal blooms on Lake Erie, Grand Lake St. Mary’s (Ohio’s largest inland lake) and on the Ohio River have made headline news and in 2014 national attention came to the HAB crisis when the City of Toledo was forced to issue a “do not drink” advisory when mycrocystin toxin from HABs were detected in the treated drinking water. While much of the attention has been focused on these high profile cases, there is also growing concern about eutrophication and HABs in the many thousands of smaller, privately owned and managed lakes and ponds (Ohio has approximately 50,000 lakes and small ponds) that Ohioan’s enjoy for boating, fishing, and swimming during the summer months. In 2011, the Ohio Lake Management Society published their Citizen Lake Awareness and Monitoring (CLAM) results; based on average Secchi disk values from 27 lakes, 70% were eutrophic and 22% were hypereutrophic, suggesting these lakes may be at high risk for HABs.
While many manuals and handbooks are available to lake managers describing various methods for reducing nutrient enrichment and suppressing algal growth, the long-term success of these techniques is not known and many lake managers are not formally trained in lake management techniques and therefore may not be familiar with the range of management strategies available. Furthermore, there is a notable gap in information and educational programs for managers of privately owned and managed lakes.
In response to this perceived need, faculty and staff from OSU Extension in the School of Environment and Natural Resources and the Ohio Water Resources Center were awarded a grant from the Office of Outreach and Engagement to reach out to lake managers in Medina County to monitor lake conditions and address their educational needs through a series of workshops and publications on lake management techniques for reducing the risks of HABs. The collaborators chose Medina County because it has the largest concentration of medium-sized lakes in the state.
The project represents the multi-disciplinary, integrated research and extension work that the Land Grant Universities like Ohio State are so well positioned to undertake. Lake managers in Medina County will be surveyed to determine their baseline level of knowledge of lake management and monitoring techniques, current management practices, lake management issues, and level of interest in educational programs and materials related to HABs. Lake managers who are interested will then be invited to participate in a workshop to learn how to monitor for HABs, nutrient levels, and other indicators of eutrophication. A subset of these lake managers will be selected to conduct detailed sampling of their lakes. Samples will be analyzed by the Environmental Engineering laboratory. The Extension Program Director for Aquatic Ecosystems will work with the lake managers to develop management strategies based on monitoring results and monitoring results will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of various management techniques. Lessons learned from this program will be applied to developing a practical guide and series of extension fact sheets for lake managers and homeowner associations. Participating lake managers will be surveyed at the end of the project to evaluate learning outcomes and changes in management practices.
Anticipated outcomes of this program are increased knowledge of algal problems and sustainable lake management practices among lake managers and decreased use of chemicals applied to medium-sized lakes. If this pilot program in Medina County proves successful, the collaborators from OSU Extension and Ohio Water Resources Center continue their collaboration and expand the program to increase our understanding of the extent of HABs in Ohio’s medium-sized lakes, to evaluate the effectiveness of lake management techniques and, ultimately, to reduce the health risks and economic impacts of harmful algal blooms around the state.
For more information about this project, contact Eugene Braig, Program Director for Aquatic Ecosystems at email@example.com
Joe Bonnell, PhD, The Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources
Joe Bonnell currently serves as Program Director for Watershed Management in the School of Environment and Natural Resources. He received his PhD in Natural Resources from The Ohio State University in 2001. His extension and research programs have focused on collaborative approaches to watershed management and fostering behavior change to address nonpoint source pollution, particularly in agricultural watersheds. Dr. Bonnell was a member of the team that developed the Social Indicators Planning and Evaluation System to improve the delivery and evaluation of education and outreach programs targeting nonpoint source pollution. He is also co-director of the Ohio Watershed Academy and Ohio Environmental Leaders Institute.
Joe Bonnell, PhD
Program Director, Watershed Management/The Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources
210 Kottman Hall, 2021 Coffey Rd
Columbus, OH 43210
With heavier rains, water may pool around buildings and cause serious damage. Ask yourself the two things to zero in on how to address the problem.
Posted on May 23, 2016 by Monica Day, Michigan State University Extension
Water can wreak havoc when there’s too much in the wrong places and getting it away from structures quickly is essential to protecting the value of your property. What follows is a simple guide developed by Michigan State University Extension to solving common problems with water around buildings.
Approach your drainage problem by asking: 1) Where is the water coming from? 2) Where is the water going to?
During a rainstorm, go to the spot with the problem puddle. Look to see where the water is coming from. Is it rolling off the roof in sheets? You may have clogged (or missing) gutters. Is it rolling off of a driveway or other flat, hard surface? Areas that don’t allow the water to soak into the ground means that after a lot of rain, too much water will collect on the ground that can’t drain it fast enough.
Second, walk around the puddle while it is raining see where it is flowing to. If it is not going anywhere, you might need to wait for a heavier rain to see where it goes to, or it might simply be pooling and not draining off at all. For example, maybe your water is backing up because of a storm drain, tile, ditch or culvert that is clogged or broken. If standing water is not a sudden problem, it may be inadequate drainage to begin with.
If cleaning the gutters or clearing a clog won’t solve the problem, you will be looking at an investment in a drainage structure to protect your property. Water is one of the most destructive elements to buildings because decay occurs much faster where water is present. In addition to property damage, mold and mosquitoes, which both proliferate around water can cause health problems too.
Many popular drainage solutions add interest, beauty while at the same time doing something good for water resources. While protecting your structure you can also prepare for future water needs in the face of uncertainty. Whether the summer brings drought, heat or floods, rain barrels, rain gardens, cisterns, and bioswales, are practical options. Rain barrels and cisterns capture fresh water from roofs for later use for activities like washing vehicles, driveways or irrigating. Rain gardens and bioswales add beauty and attract beneficial wildlife with native plants while also giving water a place to settle and drain.
For significant amounts of water constructed wetlands or detention ponds may fit your needs. With increasing intensity of rainfall events and the concerns with maintaining freshwater quality, if a property improvement project is in on property maintenance list now is a great time to invest in a little extra for lasting benefits for everyone. Visit Michigan State University to see demonstrations of sustainable stormwater management practices in person.
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu/newsletters. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).
PUBLISHED MAY 10, 2016
URBANA, Ill. – Good news – the quality of water in the Illinois River has improved in one important aspect. A new study from the University of Illinois reports that nitrate load in the Illinois River from 2010 to 2014 was 10 percent less than the average load in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Reducing the nitrate and phosphorus loads in the Mississippi River by 45 percent is the US EPA’s ultimate recommendation. This will serve to reduce the size of the seasonal hypoxic area, or “dead zone,” created in the Gulf of Mexico when nitrate in tributaries like the Illinois River flows into the Mississippi River and down to the Gulf. Illinois has developed strategies to achieve these reductions described in the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy. Other Midwestern states have developed similar strategies.
“The recent reduction in nitrate load in the Illinois River is a promising sign,” says Greg McIsaac, U of I researcher and lead author of the study. The study was completed last October, before data for 2015 were available. “Now that these data are available, we know that the Illinois River nitrate load from 2011 to 2015 was 15 percent lower than the load measured in the baseline period from 1980 to 1996. This 15 percent reduction is a milestone that the state hoped to achieve for all its rivers by 2025,” he says.
In addition to examining trends in nitrate loads and concentrations in the Illinois River from 1976 to 2014, the authors tried to identify reasons for changes in loads and concentrations. One possible source of change considered was nitrate in treated wastewater discharged into the Illinois River by the Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago from 1983 to 2014. The authors also used annual records of fertilizer sales, livestock numbers, and crop yields to calculate residual agricultural nitrogen for each year—that is, the nitrogen made available to crops in fertilizer, manure, and biological fixation, but not absorbed by the crop or harvested in the grain.
“A significant portion of this residual nitrogen is left in the soil as nitrate and can be washed into the river, primarily through groundwater and subsurface drainage tiles in agricultural fields,” McIsaac says.
Mark David, U of I biogeochemist and co-author of the study, says the residual agricultural nitrogen was highest in the late 1980s, following a major drought and low corn yields in 1988.
“Beginning around 1990, the residual agricultural nitrogen began to decline, most likely due to improved fertilizer management and higher corn yields. Since 1980, the amount of nitrogen fertilizer sold in the watershed remained relatively constant, but corn yields increased by about 50 percent,” David says. “This means that more of the nitrogen fertilizer applied was taken up by the corn and harvested in the grain and less was left in the soil or washed down the river.”
From their analysis of the data, the team found that annual nitrate loads were significantly correlated with river flow, nitrate discharged in Chicago wastewater and residual agricultural nitrogen averaged over a six year window. Nitrate concentrations – the average weight of nitrate in a typical gallon of river water – were also correlated with residual agricultural nitrogen and nitrate discharge from Chicago, but not river flow.
Another one of the study’s co-authors, U of I biostatistician George Gertner, is cautious about the findings. “Although the correlations we found are statistically significant, they are not definitive proof that the reductions in residual agricultural nitrogen or nitrate discharge from Chicago caused changes in nitrate concentrations or loads in the river. The results are, however, strongly suggestive of the connections.”
Nitrate loads are strongly influenced by precipitation and river flow which can be highly erratic. “It is promising that nitrate loads have declined in recent years despite higher than average river flows. The five-year average river flow from 2007 to 2011 was the highest recorded since the start of measurement in 1939,” McIsaac says.
Nitrate concentrations, on the other hand, have declined more consistently since about 1990, which was a period of high concentrations. The reason for the divergence between nitrate concentration and load, explains McIsaac, is that the load is the product of both concentration and river flow and the flow is strongly influenced by precipitation, while concentrations are not. Higher flows allow the river to carry more pounds of nitrate, but it doesn’t necessarily change the concentrations.
Whether nitrate concentrations and loads continue to decline in the future depends on several factors, according to the researchers. “If the annual river flows return to their 1976-2005 average values, and if nitrogen fertilizer efficiency remains high or continues to improve, there likely will be a decline in nitrate loads in the Illinois River,” David explains. “On the other hand, if river flows remain high, which may be a consequence of climate change, meeting the nitrate reduction goals will likely require more conservation effort than originally proposed.”
The study, “Illinois River nitrate-nitrogen concentrations and loads: Long-term variation and association with watershed nitrogen inputs,” written by Gregory F. McIsaac, Mark B. David, and George Z. Gertner, is published in the Journal of Environmental Quality and available through open access at https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/jeq/pdfs/0/0/jeq2015.10.0531.
Data used in the study was provided by the US Geological Survey and the US Department of Agriculture. Partial funding was provided by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, under Agreement No. 2011-039568-31127.
Funds for tree planting and clean water are available for projects in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Proposals due June 21.
The U.S. Forest Service announced today (April 22) the availability of $3.7 million to support competitive projects in the Great Lakes watershed. Originating through an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the funds will support successful projects that address invasive species, nonpoint source pollution impacts on nearshore health, and habitat restoration activities that impact water quality in priority watersheds within the Great Lakes basin.
These funds will help communities to mitigate the loss of trees to the emerald ash borer and to filter and slow rain water runoff and associated nutrients and sediments from polluting the lakes. Projects proposals are sought in the following program areas.
· Restore tree canopy lost to infestation by emerald ash borer
· Create or improve green infrastructure through the planting of trees and other vegetation as part of a local management strategy to maintain and enhance urban watersheds
· Restore the structure and function of coastal wetlands and lake-affected riparian areas through planting of native trees and diverse vegetation
For more information, interested applicants can visit the Forest Service website at http://www.na.fs.fed.us/watershed/gl_restore_initiative.shtm, or visit www.grants.gov. The Funding Opportunity Number is: USDA-FS-2016-GLRI
By: Rebecca Power
Across the North Central Region, conference season has peaked and is now quieting down as the field season moves northward. The North Central Region Water Network is following suit, having completed our second conference as of March 23. You can see and listen to conference plenary presentations on our website. Our University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosts provided inspirational examples of how universities organize for impact, providing science and education that will help ensure sustainable water supplies for agriculture, communities, and ecosystems that supply diverse and valuable services.
Network participants attending the conference organized and participated in break-out sessions on climate change, irrigation, nutrient and manure management, stormwater management, watershed leadership, youth water literacy and stewardship, volunteer stream monitoring and several other topics. Look for more information and useful products from these groups as they continue to grow and develop. You can stay up to date by checking the Network Initiatives section of our website or by contacting initiative leaders listed on their respective web pages.
As valuable as these conversations with our colleagues are, seeing and experiencing the agricultural and natural resources we are researching and teaching about is critical to our success. One of learning opportunities we enjoyed while in Nebraska is the breathtaking sandhill crane migration along Nebraska’s Platte River valley. Over 80% of the world’s population of sandhill cranes pause on their journey north to rest and refuel and “conference” loudly with one another. Not much different than our conference really – just better scenery!
Thanks also to the many University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty, educators, and partners that made our trip stand out. You are clearly on the forefront of integrating food, water, and energy systems for a resilient and abundant future.
Final ANR Academy webinar on Climate Resources for Extension, Friday, April 22, 1:00 p.m. EDT / Noon CDT. You can join by clicking on http://connect.unl.edu/koelsch
Multi-LCC Mississippi River Basin / Gulf Hypoxia Initiative (MRB/GHI)
Precision Conservation Research & Design Forum
Noon Tues – Noon Thurs, March 1-3, Indianapolis, IN
PRE-WORKSHOP WEBINAR SERIES
Everyone is welcome to attend the webinars, regardless of whether you will be able to participate in the R&D Forum in Indy. Webinars will be Thursdays, Jan 21-Feb 18 at 3pmET and Friday Feb 26 at 10amET.
These sessions are not mandatory but would help prepare participants for the workshop. Join us for as many as interest you and fit your schedule. Anyone is welcome to attend the webinars and participate in the R&D Forum online. Feel free to distribute this list to others who may be interested.
Connect at the scheduled time with this URL and phone number:
Audio – Dial 866-714-8353; Participant code 43553755#
Draft Presentation Schedule
Thursday, Jan 21 @ 3:00 PM EST
Glen Salmon and Gwen White – multi-LCC Mississippi/Gulf Hypoxia Iniatiative Overview
John Tirpak – Stitching it all together: Integrating Science and Management
Thursday, Jan 28 @ 3:00 PM EST
Jorgen Rose – MRB/GHI Practice Sheets: status and development
Lisa Schulte Moore – Prairie STRIPS
Thursday, Feb 4th @ 3:00 PM EST
Ryan Drum – Performance metrics, surrogate species, and monarch landscape design
Scott Lucas – Pollinator strategy for the Ohio DOT
Thursday, Feb 11 @ 3:00 PM EST
Shannon Zezula – Soil health and cover crops as drivers for wildlife and water quality
Meghna Babbar-Sebens – Watershed modeling tools
Thursday, Feb 18 @ 3:00 PM EST
Michael Schwartz – MRB/GHI online spatial analysis: data development and delivery
Friday, Feb 26 @ 10:00 AM EST*
Bill Richardson – Maquoketa floodplain habitat nutrient removal monitoring
Dan Lambert – Midwest grassland bird conservation opportunities
* Note the time and date difference for this last webinar presentation
For more information about the Mississippi/Gulf Hypoxia R&D Forum, March 1-3 in Indy, contact Gwen White at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to — http://www.tallgrassprairielcc.org/event/multi-lcc-mississippi-river-basin-gulf-hypoxia-initiative-conservation-design-research-forum.
In a week or so, I will be headed south for a short winter break – crossing the Mighty Mississippi at St. Louis, skirting the Ozarks, and landing on the Gulf Coast at Padre Island National Seashore. There will be familiar faces there – widgeon, teal, sandhill cranes, house wrens, and other birds that know better than to brave a Wisconsin winter – even in a warmer-than-average El Niño year! How fortunate I feel to be able to follow the smallest of sparrows and one of our nation’s most important natural arteries to a new place, with new sights, sounds, and stories to enrich life at home.
However, before I leave the snow flurries behind, I get to take stock of the year through annual reporting. Annual reporting is not high on my list of holiday cravings (okay, it’s not on the list at all). However, it is a time for reflection, time to take stock of what the North Central Region Water Network and our partners have accomplished in 2015. Reviewing the calendar and reports from each completed project reminds me how much I have much to be thankful for, even if my kayak never touches the salty Laguna Madre. There’s too much to list here, so I’ll just refer you to the Network’s Initiatives, Resources, and Webinars pages for more information.
I also encourage you to read Dan Devlin’s Kansas State University highlight in this newsletter. The Kansas State Extension Watershed Specialist program is one of many examples of how Extension takes a systems approach to complex problems like water, providing everything from one-on-one education to water quality monitoring to assistance with BMP implementation, to documenting pollution reductions. K-State specialists and educators collaborate with Kansas Department of Health and Environment, agricultural groups, and farmers to get the job done. In true John Dewey fashion, research and education are tools for individual and public good. They are employed purposefully by talented and committed people to make the world a better place.
So as 2015 comes to a close, thanks to all of you who are giving so much for your communities and the water resources on which they depend. Happy holidays and warmest wishes for the new year.
P.S. What are you thankful for in 2015? Tell us here!
Save the Date! The North Central Region Water Network’s second conference and regional working session will be March 21-23, 2016 in Lincoln, NE. Theme: “From Science to Success.” More details coming here!
Rebecca Power, Network Director