Summer 2013 Community News

Larry Baker (WRS faculty, BBE) chaired a National Academy of Sciences-sponsored workshop “Regional Approaches to Urban Sustainability: A Focus on Portland”, May 28-29, 2013 at Portland State University. Baker also spoke at Northeastern University, Boston, MA, March 19, 2013 on “Mass Flow Analysis of Nutrients in Urban Ecosystems,” Baker and Heidi Peterson presented “Phosphorus balance for the Albert Lea watershed,” at the Shell Rock River Watershed District, Albert Lea, MN, March 13, 2013.

John Gulliver (WRS faculty, CE) is on the organizing committee for the 2013 International Low Impact Development Symposium, which will take place in Saint Paul, Minnesota, August 18-21, 2013, brings together over 1,000 professionals to share their research, implementation, policy, financing and education strategies to build and restore cities while protecting our environment. The Symposium seeks to advance the knowledge and understanding of sustainable LID principles and practices for stormwater, and is being hosted in 2013 by the University of Minnesota.

George Host (WRS Faculty, NRRI) along with Gerry Sjerven and Norman Will (NRRI) recently published a map-based website to deliver information and data sets relevant to coastal communities of Minnesota's Lake Superior North Shore. Resources include real-time information on weather, traffic and beach conditions, live-streaming Twitter feeds, along with map information on recreational opportunities, population and land cover. The project was funded in part under the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in cooperation with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program. The site can be found at

Tim LaPara (WRS Faculty, CE) will assume the duties of DGS for the Water Resources Science program July 1, 2013.

Deb Swackhamer (WRC co-director) was reappointed as the Higher Education representative to the Clean Water Council. The Clean Water Council was created in 2006 by the Clean Water Legacy Act, and charged with advising the Governor and Legislature on the Clean Water Fund created by the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment to the Constitution. This is a three year appointment and Swackhamer’s third term on the Council.

The University of Minnesota’s Onsite Sewage Treatment Program, through a grant from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and the Environment and Natural Resources Trust fund, developed a new spreadsheet-based model that calculates annual pollutant loads from problematic septic systems and accounts for the benefits of a range of septic system improvements, educational efforts and programs to identify the problematic systems. Local conservation partners can use this tool to report estimated improvements in pollution removals including Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), Total Suspended Solids (TSS), fecal coliform bacteria, phosphorus and nitrogen. Check out the new tool: Septic System Improvement Estimator and the Septic System Improvement Estimator Users Guide.

The University of Minnesota Water Resources Center (WRC) hosted a Watershed Research Symposium on February 21, 2013 to construct a water resources research agenda in Minnesota for the next five years, 2013 through 2018. Over 100 researchers, state decision makers, practitioners and citizen representatives met to discuss the current state of research in managing Minnesota’s water resources and to identify gaps in information and knowledge that could be bridged through additional research.

“The issues facing Minnesota have not changed significantly but the need for research continues to grow. Groundwater is being recognized as a major issue by more water professionals and academics than it was five years ago,” said Faye Sleeper, WRC co-director and symposium organizer.

Wetland Delinator Certification Program workshop season begins mid-June. Find the class schedule here: