Fall 2018 Community News

This year’s MN Wetland Conference a special session at October 16-17 Minnesota Water Resources Conference

This day-long special session is being offered at the Minnesota Water Resources Conference in lieu of the stand-alone Minnesota Wetland Conference that has been held over the past 10 years. As with past Minnesota Wetland Conferences, this special session offers participants WDCP continuing education credits. Wetlands in Minnesota’s landscapes provide important functions and values to the public including water quality improvements, floodwater attenuation, wildlife habitat, groundwater recharge, recreational opportunities, and commercial uses, among others. The complex roles of wetlands in the changing landscape continue to be studied and documented. In joining with the Minnesota Water Resources Conference, this special session provides an excellent forum to focus on wetlands subject matter to improve collective wetlands knowledge and increase understanding of how wetlands integrate with water resources management throughout the state.

New funding to improve soil management in cold climates

The University of Minnesota Water Resources Center was recently awarded a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand soil health research and outreach at Minnesota’s Office for Soil Health. The 885,000 grant will support monitoring of soil health properties across Minnesota, filling a knowledge gap that has hampered effective cold climate soil management. A public database will house soil health measurements and provide a web portal and field events to help farmers and agricultural advisors learn from each other. Details of all CIG awards are available on the USDA website.


MNDot and OSTP partner in rest area septic education signs

The Onsite Sewage Treatment Program (OSTP) in the WRC has been performing septic system evaluation research at MnDOT safety rest areas. Through this work, researchers identified the rest areas best suited to educate the public about proper septic operation and maintenance. The OSTP team developed an education and outreach signage plan that discourages non-organic waste disposal into MNDot septic systems and educates the public about proper septic system use.

OSTP receives additional MnDOT funding

Over the last five years, the Onsite Sewage Treatment Program (OSTP), housed in the Water Resources Center, has investigated wastewater treatment at MnDOT safety rest areas and truck stations.  Recently OSTP received additional funding to further explore MnDOT’s wastewater treatment. The first project will expand automated field-based verification of groundwater mounding and water levels to estimate the influence of larger wastewater treatment systems on groundwater systems.  The second project will evaluate chemicals of emerging concern from five safety rest areas and one land application site.  The next objective will characterize and compare the microbial communities among soil treatment areas and unaltered soils from the same site.  The last objective will develop a reuse system design along with plans and specifications for truck wash down water at the Arden Hills Truck station for brine production.

William Arnold (WRS faculty, CE) received the 2018 AEESP Outstanding Publication Award for his PhD dissertation:  Pathways and kinetics of chlorinated ethylene and chlorinated acetylene reaction with
Fe (0)particles
Environmental Science & Technology, 34, (9), 1794-1805, 2000; doi: 10.1021/es990884q). The award will be presented at the AEESP Annual Meet and Greet in New Orleans, LA, October 1, 2018.

Daniel Engstrom (WRS faculty, Earth Sciences) was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Paleolimnology Association (IPA) at a joint conference with the International Association of Limnogeology in Stockholm, Sweden in June of this year. IPA achievement awards are presented every three years based on contributions to the field of paleolimnology and their application to the wider fields of science and societal understanding of environmental change. Engstrom’s research of the source of pollutant loads and the mechanisms of lake repose to human stressors, as well as development of the lead-210 dating method, refined sediment coring equipment, investigating mercury deposition and cycling, siltation of waterways and the eutrophication of lakes.

Karen Gran (WRS faculty, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UMD) Noah Finnegan, Andrea L. Johnson (WRS student), Patrick Belmont, Chad Wittkop, Tammy Rittenour won the Kirk Bryan Award for Research Excellence from the Quaternary Geology & Geomorphology Division of the Geological Society of America for their paper: Landscape evolution, valley excavation, and terrace development following abrupt base-level fall. The research award is given annually to a "published paper of distinction advancing the science of geomorphology or some related field, such as [Pleistocene] Quaternary geology."  The paper details landscape evolution in the Le Sueur River in south-central Minnesota, and couples terrace data with numerical modeling to determine a pre-EuroAmerica settlement sediment load associated with valley widening and incision. 

John Gulliver (WRS faculty, CE) gave five invited presentations to local entities on stormwater ponds that become a source of phosphorus pollution: the Minnesota Erosion Control Association Annual Conference, the Bassett Creek Watershed Management Commission, the Shingle Creek & West Mississippi Watershed Management Commission, a MnDOT Lunch seminar and the Minnesota Cities Stormwater Coalition.