Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Book Review: Great Lakes Nature: An Outdoor Year

Great Lakes Nature: An Outdoor Year
By Mary Blocksma
Illustrations by Robin Wilt

Follow Mary Blocksma through a year of "naming the nature" in her backyard and neighborhood. This field guide of Great Lakes nature begins January 1 with an entry on snow and ends on New Years Eve with the blue moon. Make 2009's resolution to be more aware of your surroundings.

This book and many other field guides are available at Wisconsin's Water Library. We have guides on water quality, wetlands, aquatic plants, freshwater fish and many more.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Ice anglers urged to follow VHS rules

With a new statewide poll showing that some anglers aren’t taking all needed steps to prevent spreading VHS fish disease, state fisheries officials are asking angler to redouble efforts year-round, including during winter when water temperatures are the coldest and the disease is most active in fish. Information on the poll is available on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Web site.

“The good news from the Badger Poll results is that the vast majority of anglers and boaters took some steps to prevent the spread of VHS,” says Mike Staggs, Wisconsin’s fisheries director. “Our sampling in 2008 showed that VHS hadn’t spread beyond Lake Winnebago and Lake Michigan, and that’s a great credit to everybody who followed the VHS rules. But the problem hasn’t gone away, and the survey results suggest that we can do better and we must do better if we want to protect Wisconsin’s great fishing.”

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Book Review: Cajun Night Before and After Christmas

Cajun Night Before Christmas
By "Trosclair", edited by Howard Jacobs, illustrated by James Rice

Christmas down in the Louisiana Bayou isn't the quite the same: no snow and no reindeer. Instead, Santa Claus wears muskrat fur and has 8 alligators to pull his "skiff" from door to door. This adaptation of the Night Before Christmas is written in Cajun vernacular and the illustrations have a charm and Christmas spirit all their own.

Cajun Night After Christmas
By Jenny Jackson Moss and Amy Jackson Dixon, illustrated by James Rice

What do Santa and his alligators do after a long Christmas night of drifting in the swamps, delivering presents to the young children of Louisiana? This tale looks at one of Santa's alligators, Pierre, and his life on the 364 days after Christmas. His adventures include going to live with a family, finding love and marrying alligator Louise, and having children of his own. Every year, Santa stops by on Christmas night to catch up with his old pal and share the holiday spirit with Pierre and his family. Also written in Cajun vernacular with beautiful illustrations by James Rice.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tips to help reduce waste, save energy and keep the holidays green

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource provides some tips on how to make your holidays greener. Some of our favorites include:

Give gifts that help your friends and family live greener. Possibilities include bus tickets, state park passes, compost bins, reusable grocery bags, rechargeable batteries and chargers, live plants and seeds or coupons for spring gardening.

Don’t throw away your holiday or greeting cards; use them to make new cards next year.

Reduce waste by wrapping gifts in comics, old maps, wallpaper scraps, reusable cloth, or your own artwork drawn on the back of scrap paper. Or, make wrapping part of the gift. For example, wrap a kitchen gift in a colorful hand towel, or place a set of earrings in a new pair of gloves.

To see more tips...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Abrupt Climate Change: Will It Happen this Century?

News Release
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
For release: December 16, 2008

John McGeehin, 703-648-5349,
Jessica Robertson, c 202-821-2698, w 703-648-6624,

The United States faces the potential for abrupt climate change in the 21st century that could pose clear risks to society in terms of our ability to adapt. “Abrupt” changes can occur over decades or less, persist for decades more, and cause substantial disruptions to human and natural systems.

A new report, based on an assessment of published science literature, makes the following conclusions about the potential for abrupt climate changes from global warming during this century. Climate model simulations and observations suggest that rapid and sustained September arctic sea ice loss is likely in the 21st century. The southwestern United States may be beginning an abrupt period of increased drought.

It is very likely that the northward flow of warm water in the upper layers of the Atlantic Ocean, which has an important impact on the global climate system, will decrease by approximately 25–30 percent. However, it is very unlikely that this circulation will collapse or that the weakening will occur abruptly during the 21st century and beyond. An abrupt change in sea level is possible, but predictions are highly uncertain due to shortcomings in existing climate models. There is unlikely to be an abrupt release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, to the atmosphere from deposits in the earth. However, it is very likely that the pace of methane emissions will increase.

The U.S. Geological Survey led the new assessment, which was authored by a team of climate scientists from the federal government and academia. The report was commissioned by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program with contributions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation. “This report was truly a collaborative effort between world renowned scientists who provided objective, unbiased information that is necessary to develop effective adaptation and mitigation strategies that protect our livelihood,” said USGS Director Mark Myers. “It summarizes the scientific community’s growing understanding regarding the potential for abrupt climate changes and identifies areas for additional research to further improve climate models.”

Further research is needed to improve our understanding of the potential for abrupt changes in climate. For example, the report’s scientists found that processes such as interaction of warm ocean waters with the periphery of ice sheets and ice shelves have a greater impact than previously known on the destabilization of ice sheets that might accelerate sea-level rise.

To view the full report, titled Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.4: Abrupt Climate Change, and a summary brochure on abrupt climate change, visit

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Book Review: The Historic Christmas Tree Ship

The Historic Christmas Tree Ship: A True Story of Faith, Hope and Love by Rochelle M. Pennington

Captain Herman Schuenemann became affectionately known as "Captain Santa" for his yearly voyage from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to Chicago with a load of freshly cut Christmas trees. Families would wait anxiously at the docks for their choice of the best Christmas trees. The Captain's last voyage was in 1912 when the ship was unable to withstand the gales of the Great Lakes and went down off the coast of Two Rivers, Wisconsin. After the death of their beloved husband and father, the Captain's wife and three daughters continued to bring evergreens into Chicago for another twenty years.

Rochelle Pennington gives life to this Christmas legend and tradition. Using resources from various maritime museums of the Great Lakes, historical society archives, and newspaper articles, the tale of the Schuenemann family remains a beloved piece of Great Lakes history and holiday spirit.

Also, check out a children's version titled The Christmas Tree Ship: The Story of Captain Santa. Both are available to check out from Wisconsin's Water Library. Send an email to Ask water to have either book sent directly to you.

Pennington is a freelance author and newspaper columnist from Wisconsin. Illustrations by artist Charles Vickery. Vickery is best known for his renditions of the sea, its coastlines, ports and majestic sailing vessels.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Poll: Boaters and anglers taking steps to prevent spread of invasive species

The vast majority of Wisconsin residents say that preventing the spread of VHS fish disease and other aquatic invasive species to new lakes and rivers is very important, a recent statewide poll shows.

Boaters and anglers, however, had a mixed track record in taking the required steps to prevent accidentally spreading the invaders. Boat traffic between lakes, and the transfer of infected baitfish from one water body to another, are the major ways that invasive species and VHS, respectively, are introduced to new waters.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Man-made chemicals found in drinking water at low levels

Low levels of certain man-made chemicals remain in public water supplies after being treated in selected community water facilities. Water from nine selected rivers, used as a source for public water systems, was analyzed in a study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most of the man-made chemicals assessed in this study are not required to be monitored, regulated or removed from water treatment facilities. Scientists tested water samples for commonly used chemicals, including pesticides, solvents, gasoline hydrocarbons, personal care products, disinfection by-products, and manufacturing additives.

A public briefing hosted by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute and the Water Environment Federation to announce the new USGS findings and implications for treated and untreated water at different settings and areas of the country was held December 5, 2008 in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about the study and public briefing, visit USGS.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Great Lakes Compact goes into effect Dec. 8

MADISON – The Great Lakes Compact takes effect Dec. 8, ushering in a new era of cooperation and conservation among those states that border the five Great Lakes, which hold one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water.
The historic agreement binding Wisconsin and seven other Great Lakes states largely prohibits water from being diverted outside the Great Lakes basin while committing residents and businesses within the basin to sustainably use that water.

Read more from Wisconsin's DNR...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Winter activities in Wisconsin

Looking out the window today here in Madison, one might question their ability to get through another Wisconsin winter. What will one do for recreation now that the snow is falling? Plenty! Ice fishing is just one hobby of the winterloving population across the Great Lakes region. Wisconsin's DNR has a section devoted to tips, reports, conditions and safety for ice fishermen and women. Included is a video from a devoted Monona Bay ice fisherman.

For more books on ice fishing, check out the Water Library's collection on the topic. We have books such as Fishing on Ice by Noel Vick, Hooked on Ice Fishing: Secrets to catching winter fish, beginner to expert by Tom Gruenwald, and Ice Fishing Secrets by Dave Genz, Al Lindner, and Doug Stange. Also, check out Let’s Go Fishing on the Ice by George Travis for the younger ice fishermen and women.

Monday, December 1, 2008

EPA sponsors climate change symposium for tribes

Chicago, Ill. - Nov. 24, 2008 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 is sponsoring a symposium on climate change in the Great Lakes basin for tribal officials and others Dec. 1-4 at the Forest County Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee. The symposium will provide an opportunity to discuss health and cultural effects of climate change in tribal communities around the Great Lakes such as its impact on water supplies and threats to native species important to indigenous cultures and economies.

Stephen Wittman, Communications Manager of the UW Sea Grant Institute, will be presenting on the summary report Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region: Starting a Public Discussion. To see his presentation slides and other presenters' at the symposium, click here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Remembering a fierce Great Lakes storm

In the fall of 1905, a powerful storm struck the Great Lakes, causing one of the most dramatic shipping disasters in the nation's history. Minnesota reporter Curt Brown tells the story in his new book, So Terrible a Storm: A Tale of Fury on Lake Superior. Click here to listen to Brown talk to Morning Edition host Cathy Wurzer on Minnesota Public Radio.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pavement sealcoat linked to urban lake contamination

From the USGS: Dust collected from coal-tar sealcoated parking lots in Central and Eastern U.S. cities contains concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that are about 1,000 times greater than levels found in Western cities where coal-tar sealcoat is less commonly used, according to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study published this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

The new study also shows that coal-tar sealcoat - the shiny black material applied to many parking lots and driveways - is contributing to PAH contamination in many of the nation's urban lakes. PAHs are an environmental concern because they are toxic to aquatic life and several are suspected carcinogens.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Aerial photographs of the Great Lakes

Don Coles, Detroit-based photographer and pilot, has a website with many aerial shots of all the Great Lakes. The beautiful photographs are under copyright, so please do not show or use for personal use without permission from Mr. Coles. Otherwise, it is always free to look. Besides the lakes, Coles takes photos of ships, lighthouses, memorials and much more.

Check out photos from Don Coles....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Web resource: advice helps private well owners fix water problems

MADISON – The drinking water doctor is in. Wisconsin’s private well owners who want to check on their drinking water can now go online to get advice if they notice that their water smells, tastes or looks bad, or strains their laundry or bathroom fixtures. A “Healthy Water Checkup” button on the Department of Natural Resources Web site will take people to a new “What’s Wrong with My Water?” Web page. The information is intended to help people who draw water from Wisconsin’s one million private wells diagnose the likely cause of their water problems and whether they need to fix it, says Dorie Turpin, the DNR private water engineer who developed the diagnostic information.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Fifth and final Water Matters lecture 11/18

Water Matters Lecture series was organized by the UW Aquatic Sciences Center and the Department of Art History. The final lecture in the series is scheduled for this Tuesday evening:

Anders W. Andren, director of the UW-Madison Aquatic Sciences Center will be speaking on "Wisconsin Groundwater Resources"
John J. Magnuson, director emeritus of the UW-Madison Center for Limnology will be speaking on "Global Warming and Its Implications for Wisconsin/Great Lakes Waters"

Tuesday, November 18, at 6 pm, Room L150 in Chazen Museum of Art. Event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

UW student offers tap water challenge

In an effort to raise awareness of the environmental impact of bottled water, University of Wisconsin-Madison junior Leah Loehndorf recently organized a mass order of more than 130 reusable and eco-friendly "Klean Kanteen" bottles to share with her "Zoology 360 - Extinction of Species" class. She has also organized a "Tap Water Challenge" that will be held from 6-9 p.m. tonight (Nov. 13) at the Memorial Union, in the first floor hallway near the Rathskeller.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Fourth Water Matters Lecture 11/11

"Water and the Law: Two Wisconsin Ojibwe Cases"
Larry Nesper, associate professor of anthropology, UW-Madison.

Organized by the UW Aquatic Sciences Center and the Department of Art History to enhance public awareness and understanding of water resources in a changing climate. Tuesday, November 11, 6pm, rm L150 in Chazen Museum of Art. Free and open to public.

Web Resource - A Day in the Life of a Drop

Resource for students and families from the US Environmental Protection Agency: A Day in the Life of a Drop is a set of activities designed to help students in grades 3–5 understand the connections between the source of the water they use and the ways their water use habits affect the environment and human health. Students also learn how to reduce their impacts and engage family members.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Event: Third Water Matters lecture 11/6

"The Past, Present and Future of Great Lakes Fisheries" by Jim Kitchell, director, UW-Madison Center for Limnology AND "History of Wild Rice and its Restoration" by Anthony Kern, associate professor of biology, Northland College

Organized by the UW Aquatic Sciences Center and the Department of Art History to enhance public awareness and understanding of water resources in a changing climate. Thursday, November 6, 6pm, rm L150 in Chazen Museum of Art. Free and open to public.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Web Resources: National Assessment of Water Availability and Use

At the request of Congress, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is assessing the availability and use of the Nation’s water resources to gain a clearer understanding of the status of our water resources and the land-use, water-use, and natural climatic trends that affect them. The goal of the National Assessment of Water Availability and Use Program is to improve our ability to forecast water availability for future economic and environmental uses. Simply put, the assessment will help characterize how much water we have now, how water availability is changing, and how much water we can expect to have in the future.


Event: Wisconsin Waters Exhibit

Wisconsin Waters is the new juried competition to be offered during PhotoMidwest. Scheduled to be shown at the Pyle Center, the debut event is exhibiting 55 images. The themed exhibit emphasizes the many aspects of water in the state, from lakes and rivers, to rain, mist, fog, etc.

The Pyle Center is at 702 Langdon Street and is open Monday through Friday, 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Call the Pyle Center at (608) 262-1122 for additional building hours, including weekends, which vary weekly.

Download a guide to the Wisconsin Waters exhibit here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

In celebration of Halloween 2008, the Water Library has compiled a list of resources with a spooky theme or twist.

Did you know 36 million children between the ages of 5 and 13 went trick or treating last year? The US Census Bureau puts out statistics on Halloween each year. To find out how many pounds of candy Americans consumed last year, click here.

For the morbid, Harvard Law School library has a collection for you: Dying Speeches and Bloody Murders. Published in British towns and cities by printers who specialized in this type of street literature, a typical example features an illustration (usually of the criminal, the crime scene, or the execution); an account of the crime and (sometimes) the trial; and the purported confession of the criminal, often cautioning the reader in doggerel verse to avoid the fate awaiting the perpetrator.

It wouldn't be Halloween at Wisconsin's Water Library without some spooky water facts.

Keeping those in mind, remember to stay green this Halloween: has everything from green costume ideas to activities for kids and parents.
Before trick or treating, be sure to check out The Green Guide.

Happy Halloween from the Water Library!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recent water-related awards

Congratulations to the Village of Trempealeau, Wisconsin and the Wisconsin-based Kohler Corporation! Both recently received accolades for their efforts in water quality and conservation:

National award honors Trempealeau’s commitment to clean water
Kohler is a EPA WaterSense 2008 Partner of the Year

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Web Resource: Informational tools aim to protect wetlands, help landowners

The Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources (WDNR) has worked with the Wisconsin Realtors Association and the Wisconsin Wetlands Association to develop a real estate addendum that people can complete with their offer to purchase. The Addendum W – Wetlands is a legal document that allows buyers an opportunity to verify that wetlands are present on a property and to negotiate a mutual remedy with the seller, which might include the ability to rescind or modify the offer terms, if wetlands are confirmed.

Read more....
Learn how to locate wetlands....

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Clean Marina workshop fights pollution

MUSKEGON, MI -- A workshop for marina operators interested in earning a Clean Marina designation from the state of Michigan will be 1-4 p.m. Nov. 7, at Bayside Centre in Muskegon. The workshop will show marina owners how to avoid problems that could cause fuel and other chemicals used in boats to cause water pollution.

To read more about this workshop, click here.
To read more about Michigan's Clean Marina project, click here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Event: Second Water Matters lecture 10/28

Please come and enjoy the 2nd in a series of lectures called WATER MATTERS. This talk is entitled "Conversations on Race, Privilege, and the Environmental Movement” by Carolyn Finney, assistant professor of geography, University of California at Berkeley, and Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees, artist/activist. The lecture will take place Tuesday October 28 at 6 p.m. The Water Matters lecture series is happening as part of the Mami Wata exhibit at the Chazen Museum of Art. The galleries housing the Mami Wata exhibit will remain open until 6 p.m.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Event: First Water Matters lecture

Patty Loew is presenting the first lecture in the Waters Matters lecture series tonight, Tuesday October 21, at 6pm at the Chazen Museum of Art. Admission is free. The title of her talk is "THE SACREDNESS OF WATER."

Read more....

Friday, October 17, 2008

Event: Mami Wata Opening weekend

The Mami Wata exhibit opens tonight at the Chazen Museum of Art. A lecture by exhibition curator Henry Drewel begins at 6 pm, followed by a costume reception with food, music and dancing at 7 pm. The lecture is free. Admission to the reception is $8 for members, $12 for nonmembers and $5 for UW students with I.D.

Saturday afternoon is Celebrate Water Spirits: A Family Day from 12 pm to 4 pm. This event will also have music and dancing, as well as a paper mask-making workshop and guided exhibition tours. The event is free.

For a full schedule of events, click here.

Climate change strategy to help manage water resources

Washington, D.C. – Oct. 2, 2008 To assist in responding to potential effects of climate change, a new strategy focuses on 40 specific actions for the national water program to take to respond to climate change. EPA's "National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change" describes steps for managers to adapt their clean water, drinking water, and ocean protection programs.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Event: Henry Drewal and Baba Wague Diakite: Meet Mami Wata

Meet UW-Madison Professor Henry Drewal and Contemporary Artist Baba Wague Diakite tonight 5pm -6:30pm at Madison Public Library-Main Branch.

The Mami Wata exhibition opens Saturday, October 18 at the UW-Madison Chazen Museum of Art. In conjunction with the exhibition, UW Aquatic Sciences Center and the Department of Art History have organized a Water Matters: A Lecture Series. Look for future posts on each lecture in the series which is free and open to the public.

Tonight's event details...

Reservoirs promote spread of aquatic invasive species

The latest "damming" evidence suggests that manmade reservoirs are facilitating the spread of invasive species in Wisconsin lakes.

In a comparison of natural lakes and impoundments — reservoirs created by damming rivers — the impoundments were up to 300 times more likely than lakes to harbor invasive aquatic species, according to a study published last month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sturgeon fishing 2008

OSHKOSH, Wis. -- Sturgeon spearers who want to participate in the 2009 Lake Winnebago system sturgeon spearing season need to purchase their sturgeon spearing license before the Friday, Oct. 31 sales deadline. That is the last day sturgeon spearing licenses will be sold for Lake Winnebago and the three Upriver Lakes -- Buttes des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan seasons.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Wisconsin Book Festival this week!

The seventh annual Wisconsin Book Festival begins this Wednesday, October 15th. To see schedule of events, presenters and venues, go to for information.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Web resource: Science Research

From the Internet Scout Project:
Everyday, research sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) turns up a new discovery, an interesting facet of a scientific endeavor, and sometimes, just something that might delight and amaze even the casual observer. Recently the NSF created this website to serve as a clearinghouse of information about the work they sponsor. The "Discoveries" site can be searched in its entirety, or visitors can just peruse the chronological list that's front and center on their homepage. Over in the "Research Areas" section, visitors can wander through "Biology", "Education", "Nanoscience", and eight other topical areas. Some summaries that might be of particular interest include "Mysteries of the Unregulated Internet" and "The Bizarre Creatures of Madagascar". Also, it's worth nothing that parties who enjoy the site can sign up for their RSS feed here.

There several water-related items in the database.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Forum to focus on climate change in Wisconsin

Regional impacts of global warming will be the topic of the third annual Wisconsin Climate Change Forum on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The public is invited, and admission is free.


UW Arboretum Runoff Solutions Combine Ecology And Engineering

Article discusses Arboretum's ecosystems: projects and plans of learning now and in the future.


Waterborne disease risk upped in Great Lakes

An anticipated increased incidence of climate-related extreme rainfall events in the Great Lakes region may raise the public health risk for the 40 million people who depend on the lakes for their drinking water, according to a new study.

In a report published today (Oct. 7, 2008) in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a team of Wisconsin researchers reports that a trend toward extreme weather such as the monsoon-like rainfall events that occurred in many parts of the region this past spring is likely to aggravate the risk for outbreaks of waterborne disease in the Great Lakes region.


Friday, October 3, 2008

UW effort in Kenya

A group of UW-Madison students who are part of the university's chapter of Engineers Without Borders are working to solve a Kenyan village's water-quality issues.

more: UW

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

New report: water use and the Great Lakes

A new report has been issued by the USGS : Consumptive Water-Use Coefficients for the Great Lakes Basin and Climatically Similar Areas.

Abstract: Consumptive water use is the portion of water withdrawn(for a particular use) that is evaporated, transpired, incorporated into products or crops, consumed by humans or livestock, or otherwise removed from the immediate water environment. This report, which is organized by water-use categories, includes consumptive-use coefficients for the Great Lakes Basin (including Canada) and for areas climatically similar to the Great Lakes Basin. This report also contains an annotated bibliography of consumptive water-use coefficients. Selected references are listed for consumptive-use data from elsewhere in the world.

full text: from USGS

Web resource: freshwater ecosystems map

Freshwater Ecoregions of the World, (FEOW) provides a new global biogeographic regionalization of the Earth's freshwater biodiversity. Covering virtually all freshwater habitats on Earth, this first-ever ecoregion map, together with associated species data, is a useful tool for underpinning global and regional conservation planning efforts, particularly to identify outstanding and imperiled freshwater systems; for serving as a logical framework for large-scale conservation strategies; and for providing a global-scale knowledge base for increasing freshwater biogeographic literacy.

Presented by the Nature Conservancy, with several major corporate sponsors (including Coca Cola and US AID).


Web resource: your local drinking water

Each year by July 1 you should receive in the mail a short report (consumer confidence report, or drinking water quality report) from your water supplier that tells where your water comes from and what's in it.