Winter 2018 Community News

The Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and the Water Resources Center (WRC) announced a new collaborative program, the Minnesota Office for Soil Health. The program will build local expertise to promote soil health and soil and water conservation. Research and outreach will expand the tools and skills of Minnesota’s local conservation delivery community, and promote understanding of the economic impacts of soil and water management practices.
The WRC will lead the University’s involvement in cooperation with UMN Extension, the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate, and other UMN departments. The centerpiece of the program will be a new Extension Soil Health Specialist position.

The Water Resources Center’s Onsite Sewage Treatment Program  received a grant from the
Minnesota Department of Health to educate the public about  chemicals of emerging concern
(CEC) for those using and managing septic systems. There are over 500,000 household subsurface sewage
treatment systems (SSTS) in Minnesota. Most of these systems treat
wastewater using a septic tank followed by a soil treatment system. A majority of 
homes using septic systems have private wells for drinking water. Potentially CEC from
septic systems could taint drinking water wells. This project will focusing on educating septic
system owners, septic system professionals and those managing wells with a source water protection
plan. Contact Sara Heger sheger@umn.edu for more information.

William Arnold (WRS faculty, CE), Daniel Engstrom (WRS faculty, St. Croix Watershed Research Station & Science Museum of Minnesota)  and Timothy Lapara (WRS faculty, CE), authors of Sedimentary record of antibiotic accumulation in Minnesota Lakes  were featured with their publication and research on MPR News Antibiotics are accumulating in Minn. lakes, posing health risk, December 2017. "It's clear the drugs we're taking — or worse, disposing of down the toilet, which you shouldn't do — certainly wind up in lakes. And it's not just that they're in the river or the lake for a short time what the wastewater is discharged and rapidly dissipate, they're actually making it in to the sediment and persisting." said Arnold in the MPR report.

Mae Davenport (WRS faculty, Forest Resources) is co-PI on a Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) grant with PI Bonnie Keeler to investigate What are the public benefits of protecting sourcewater?

John Gulliver (WRS faculty, CE), Bruce Wilson (WRS faculty, BBE) and Heinz Stefan (WRS faculty, CE, retired) received 400,000 from the Legislative and Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources for the project Investigation of Road Salt Alternatives and Pavement Innovations.

Sarah Hobbie (WRS faculty, EEB) Susan Galatowitsch (WRS faculty, FWCB), Kate Derickson, Bonnie Keeler, Fred Rose and Stephen Polasky are co-PI's on Water and Equity: Co-developing Research and Engaged Approaches to Transforming Environments, with 720,000 in funding support from the Institute on the Environment.

Lucinda Johnson (WRS faculty, NRRI) has been appointed the the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors as Vice Chair of the Executive Committee and member of the Safe and Sustainable Waters Subcommittee.

Ed Nater (WRS faculty, SWAC), Brandy Toner (WRS faculty, SWAC) and Jessican Gutknecht recieved an Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund grant for their project Predicting Climate Change Effects on the Release of Mercury and Sulfur from Minnesota's Peatlands. The project will determine the effects of increased temperatures on the rate and environmental fate of mercury and sulfur released from peat decomposition.

Paige Novak (WRS faculty, CE) is PI on a project funded by the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund entitled: Nitrogen Removal Technology to Protect Water Quality, which aims to develop a new wastewater treatment technology to facilitate inexpensive, low-energy, and robust total nitrogen removal for enhanced surface water quality.

Ingrid Schneider (WRS faculty, FR and UMN Tourism Center) and Stephan Carlson completed a visitor observation study on the St Croix National Scenic Riverway to understand visitor use and capacity issues at select boat landings on the Namekagon and St Croix Rivers. Schneider will follow-up with a visitor survey to understand visitor preferences for river conditions and management options summer 2018. The National Park Service provided project funding.