Thursday, March 5, 2009

Meeting to Examine Climate Change, Other Wisconsin Water Issues

Annual meeting of the American Water Resources Association–Wisconsin Section

WHEN: March 5-6, 2009

WHERE: Ramada Stevens Point Hotel, 1501 Northpoint Drive, Stevens Point, Wis. (715) 341-1340

Contact: David Hart, President, AWRA Wisconsin Section, (608) 262-2307,

BACKGROUND: Recent analysis of historical data, combined with climate modeling, suggest that the southern Wisconsin precipitation events of 2008 are part of a trend toward wetter conditions and more intense rainfall. Climate models also suggest that increased winter snow pack and late winter rainfall may result in high groundwater tables, high lake levels, and saturated soil conditions.

AGENDA: The effects of climate change on Wisconsin’s water resources will be discussed by three plenary speakers at the annual meeting of the American Water Resources Association–Wisconsin Section. A full program and abstracts are available online.

Milwaukee Area Technical College’s George Stone will begin the meeting with a talk on “Global Effects of Climate Change,” followed by a talk by John Magnuson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison entitled “Effects of Climate Change on Wisconsin Lakes,” and ending with Chris Kucharik of the University of Wisconsin-Madison addressing “Future Implications of Climate Change to Wisconsin.”

Throughout the two-day meeting, leading water scientists, resource managers and planners from around the state will present their latest research findings about Wisconsin’s most pressing water issues. Thursday afternoon, March 5, Madeline Gotkowitz of the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey will discuss the 2008 flood in Spring Green, Wis. She and her colleagues evaluated the role of groundwater in the flooding of the region and found that the geography of the area, combined with the spring snow melt and heavy June rainfall, may have caused a 12-foot rise in water table elevation. This would explain why the town remained flooded for five months despite its location over a mile from the Wisconsin River floodplain. With climate models predicting wetter conditions in Wisconsin, the community may need to make changes to infrastructure and land use policies.

Friday morning, March 6, UW-Platteville’s Michael Penn will discuss what happens to water quality when snowdrifts begin to melt. Snowmelt runoff can be a significant portion (often the majority) of annual runoff from agricultural lands, washing sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus into lakes, rivers and streams. Penn will show how the amount of snowfall and the timing of spring thaws affect water quality.

# # # #

The meeting is sponsored by the UW Water Resources Institute, UW-Stevens Point Center for Watershed Science, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, and the U.S. Geological Survey Wisconsin Water Science Center. The University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute is one of 54 such institutes nationwide, all focused on addressing problems of water supply and water quality at local, state, regional and national levels.