Imagine A Day Without Water: The People Who Make Water the Star

Throughout late summer and early fall we highlighted the people and partners who are doing research, education, and outreach to protect our water resources and ecosystems through our #What4Water social media campaign. Altogether, we featured 12 teams and individuals working on water-related topics from stormwater and pollution to remote youth water education.

In honor of Imagine a Day Without Water explore their stories and engage with their work.







Laura Christianson is an Assistant Professor in Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. In her research, she uses woodchips to clean nitrogen pollution out of water.

“Ag producers need practical solutions to keep water clean, like woodchip bioreactors, especially in tile-drained areas.”

Check out Laura’s lab webpage for more information on her work.







Sara Heger works as part of the University of Minnesota’s Onsite Sewage Treatment Program to help ensure water is safe for people to drink and swim in.

“The 3% of our freshwater in ground and surface water is important to protect and clean for reuse.”







Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center and Wisconsin Sea Grant have worked together to develop virtual story maps or quests to help youth explore and learn about critical Great Lakes habitats in Wisconsin.

“Participants will learn about conserving these fragile ecosystems by answering questions to get clues to earn a ‘Quester certificate’.”







Mitch Ihlang is a master’s student in the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Science (WRS) Program where he studies how changes in soil frost impact groundwater recharge and streamflow.

“Understanding how these systems respond to climate change will be imperative for sustainable water management moving forward.”







Beth Barker is an Assistant Extension Professor at Mississippi State University and leads the REACH Program which works to provide research, education, and outreach to support water conservation.

“Our work matters because clean and adequate supplies of water are integral to human health, communities, ecosystems, and economies.”







Tamara Walksky is a student in the University of Minnesota Water Resources Science program. Walksky samples stormwater reuse systems to evaluate their microbial contents and safety.

“This will help Minnesota’s stormwater practitioners better understand how to manage stormwater for sustainable water reuse.”

Learn more stormwater innovations through Minnesota’s stormwater seminar series.







Anna Cates is part of the Minnesota Office for Soil Health and is working with a rainfall simulator to understand how different types of rain events and soils play a role in cropping systems.

“We’re trying to understand how different cropping systems respond to intense rain events, and whether there are certain soil properties that help them retain more water and nutrients.”







Michelle Scarpace is part of the Regional Natural Resources Education Program and works in the Rock River basin. Here she helps build capacity among stakeholders to address water quality issues with an emphasis on education and outreach related to soil health.

“This work is very important to me because we all rely on water, and it’s up to all of us to work together to protect our bountiful water sources!”







The Red Oak Rain Garden is a public rain garden on the University of Illinois campus that has 9,000 plants and two 100-year-old trees soaking up stormwater.

“By showcasing green infrastructure in such a beautiful way, it inspires us all to consider building one” noted Kate Gardiner with the University of Illinois Extension who is a  Red Oak Rain Garden team member.







University of Minnesota master’s student Lisa DeGuire is investigating the effectiveness of ballast treatment techniques on potentially invasive and pathogenic microorganisms.

“Since over 80% of international trade by volume takes place by watercraft (transporting approximately 10 billion metric tons of ballast water annually), it’s important to explore ways to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic organisms…even the ones you can’t see.”

Learn more about some of the more common Midwestern aquatic invasive species through the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.







Amanda Gumbert is an Extension Water Quality Specialist at the University of Kentucky where she helps educate about the importance of stream buffers.

Amanda educates about buffers for “streambank protection, for water quality, and for the next generation.”







Erica Olson is working in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection along with Discovery Farms Wisconsin to coordinate a Producer-Led Webinar Series that facilitates connection among farmers to talk about conservation practices.

“It has been a great way for farmers to share innovations they have made to preserve and protect water quality.”

The amazing work highlighted through our #What4water social media campaign reminds us of how important maintaining clean and abundant water is for our everyday lives. So, on this Imagine a Day Without Water we thank all the water professionals who are working to ensure we won’t ever have to go a day without water.

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