Monday, November 30, 2009

In the news: Groundwater

There has been much written recently about a new work group in the Wisconsin State Legislature. A seven-person committee has begun examining groundwater regulation in Wisconsin. The legislature is debating tighter regulation of this resource, one that supplies 70% of drinking water in the state.

To assist our readers in understanding the issues Wisconsin faces, here are a few useful links to get your started:

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Groundwater page

Bibliography on groundwater from the Legislative Reference Bureau Library

Ground-water data for Wisconsin (from the U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Water Science Center)

Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine article (2006) on 'Wisconsin's Buried Treasure.'

Link to list of publications on groundwater, from WDNR

Groundwater Coordinating Council - an interagency group that is directed by law to assist State agencies in the coordination and exchange of information related to groundwater programs.

Central Wisconsin Groundwater Center - UW Stevens Point

And of course, Wisconsin's Water Library has a recommended reading list of items that anyone is Wisconsin can check out. Just send an email to

Monday, November 23, 2009

Asian carp possibly in Lake Michigan

You may have heard in the news recently about the possible invasion of Asian carp into Lake Michigan. Scientists say that the loss of the battle to protect this Great Lake could mean major havoc on the Lake Michigan ecosystem.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced last Friday that DNA testing shows the presence of Asian carp 6 miles south of Lake Michigan.

To learn more about Asian carp, read these FAQs posted by Phil Moy, a specialist with Wisconsin Sea Grant. He does a great job in updating the public on the facts surrounding this dramatic event.

Visit the US Corps of Engineer, Chicago District Chicago Fish Barrier site to learn more about the the fish barrier they have constructed.

Recent articles in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describe the problem. Visit their Great Lakes, Great Peril special section and look for the section on Asian carp.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lake Superior research news

From UW Madison:


MADISON - Rising water temperatures are kicking up more powerful winds on Lake Superior, with consequences for currents, biological cycles, pollution and more on the world's largest lake and its smaller brethren.

Since 1985, surface water temperatures measured by lake buoys have climbed 1.2 degrees per decade, about 15 percent faster than the air above the lake and twice as fast as warming over nearby land.

"The lake's thermal budget is very sensitive to the amount of ice cover over the winter," says Ankur Desai, atmospheric and oceanic sciences professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "There is less ice on Lake Superior during the winter, and consequently the water absorbs more heat."

A wide temperature differential between water and air makes for a more stable atmosphere with calmer winds over the relatively cold water. However, as warming water closes the gap, as in Lake Superior's case, the atmosphere gets more turbulent.

"You get more powerful winds," Desai says. "We've seen a 5 percent increase per decade in average wind speed since 1985."

Those findings will be published Nov. 15 in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Read more.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bacteriodes & Milwaukee's "oozing" sewers

Months after a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article raised awareness over fecal contaminationin Greater Milwaukee's waterways, the Great Lakes WATER Institute and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have released a final report on the possible source.

Raccoons have been ruled out.

The research analyzed more than 1,000 stormwater samples (including inline stormwater and grab samples) from 62 municipal stormwater discharge locations over a three-year period. Using a new DNA based methodology, investigators searched for the genetic marker of a species of Bacteriodes, a bacteria associated only with humans.

It was found throughout Greater Milwaukee's watershed.

Three stormwater outfalls along Lake Michigan, for instance, had positive results in more than 70% of the samples tested. Stormwater outfalls along the Menomonee River were positive in 73% of the samples tested. Many more sample locations also tested positive for Bacteriodes.

To learn more about fecal contamination and the study, read the Greater Milwaukee Watersheds Pathogen Source Identification report (18MB PDF)

Make a Splash--Read

The Water Library is already preparing for summer. That's because kids will be making big splashes across Wisconsin next year. The 2010 public library summer reading program is called, "Make a Splash--Read." Kids everywhere will be jumping into exciting books on water.

To help public librarians, we've developed storytime ideas for two of of our favorite water-related subjects: frogs and fishing. Read, learn, create, and listen. The storytimes include book suggestions, crafts, and songs.

Make a foamy frog. Learn a silly song about fish.

We also compiled a list of some the best children's books about frogs and fishing. And don't forget, most books can be checked out directly from the Water Library!

Visit our website to learn more...

Storytime ideas
All about frogs reading list
All fish and fishing reading list

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wisconsin-based Kohler named 2009 WaterSense partner of the year

Wisconsin-based Kohler Company continued to demonstrate its commitment to water efficiency by winning its second consecutive WaterSense Partner of the Year award as a manufacturer. EPA presented the award in October 2009 at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. EPA cited Kohler Company’s support for regional incentives and initiatives for water efficiency from Atlanta to Denver with its “mobile restrooms,” which are trailers fully equipped with Kohler toilets and faucets that have earned the WaterSense label. In addition to publicizing WaterSense on the road, in the tradeshow circuit, on reality television, and in the restrooms of New York City’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame Annex, Kohler gave WaterSense a national spotlight through its Save Water America Web site, which is dedicated to educating homeowners about water efficiency and supports Habitat for Humanity with a $1 million product donation.

To learn more about these WaterSense partners and the awards program visit:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

New EPA report on fish contamination

In a new report, the Environmental Protection Agency has found a "widespread contamination" of fish in the nation's lakes and reservoirs. The result of a nearly decade-long screening-level survey, called the National Lake Fish Tissue Study, the report provides new baseline data for chemical residue in fish.

A statistical (random) sampling of 500 U.S. lakes and reservoirs, the study analyzed tissue samples of both predator fish species, like bass or trout, and bottom-dwelling species, like carp or catfish. The researchers tested the samples for 268 chemicals, including mercury, arsenic, dioxins and furans, pesticides, and semivolatile organic compounds.

The results are dramatic:
  • 49% of the sampled population of lakes had mercury tissue concentrations that exceeded the 0.3 ppm screening value for mercury, which represents over 36,000 lakes.
  • 17% of the sampled population of lakes had PCB tissue concentrations that exceeded the 0.12 ppb screening value for total PCBs, which represents about 13,000 lakes
  • 8% of the sampled population of lakes had dioxin and furan tissue concentrations that exceeded the 0.15 ppt screening value for total dioxins and furans, which represents about 6,000 lakes.
To learn more about the National Lake Fish Tissue Study, visit their website:

Or read the Final Report Executive Summary

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sturgeon's reintroduction at White Earth

The Water Library recently attended a keynote address by Winona LaDuke, an Anishinaabe activist from Minnesota's White Earth Ojibwe Reservation. In town for the Nelson Institute's Tales from Planet Earth Environmental Film Festival, her talk often focused on water.

Sturgeon, especially. Even a "Sturgeon General."

The White Earth band, located in northwestern Minnesota, has been restocking its waterways with the ancient fish for nearly a decade. With assistance from the Rainy River First Nations' hatchery in Canada, and their "Sturgeon General," Joe Hunter, the program has become increasingly successful. White Earth and Round Lakes are stocked with thousands of fry every year. Sturgeon are swimming again where they haven't been seen in decades.

And White Earth isn't alone. Efforts at resuscitating lost sturgeon populations are occurring throughout the Upper Midwest.

To learn more about White Earth's sturgeon program, read LaDuke's book Recovering the sacred: The power of naming and claiming. Cambridge, MA: South End Press

Or, check out the Water Libary's related reading lists:

Native Americans and the Environment
More about sturgeon

Friday, November 6, 2009

Films about water - free this weekend

The Tales from Planet Earth film festival starts tonight, Friday November 6th, in Madison, with an exciting lineup of films. There are several water-related offerings you shouldn't miss. Here are just a few to whet your whistle.. The full schedule of films and descriptions are found on the Web.

Trouble the Water (2008) - The film makes use of footage shot by aspiring rap artist Kimberly Rivers Roberts, as she and her neighbors in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans are trapped by Hurricane Katrina. What follows is an extraordinary portrait of terror, survival, and redemption. The film makes you question all over again the events surrounding the hurricane and how Americans think about and respond to natural disasters.

Sharkwater (2006) - Rob Stewart is a man of single-minded vision – a passionate diver and lover of sharks, he has made it his life's mission to try to stop the annihilation of the world's shark species. Traveling around the world, Sharkwater is his testament both to the importance of sharks to oceanic ecosystems and to the catastrophic devastation of sharks occurring daily due to human fear and greed.

The River (1938)
- Legendary director Pare Lorentz's portraits of environmental devastation during the Great Depression remain some of the most brutal and revealing ever captured on film -- monumental landmarks in the history of American non-fiction film. In The River, he documented the effects of deforestation leading to massive soil erosion and flooding in the Mississippi River watershed.

Planning for Floods (1974) - Made for the Environmental Defense Fund in 1974 on the heels of then-record flooding on the Mississippi River, George Stoney's Planning for Floods explores the philosophy of the U.S. Corps of Engineers in controlling floods and reveals how this philosophy creates a false sense of security and mastery of nature - control repeatedly shown to be illusory in natural disaster after natural disaster.

See you at the movies!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

President Obama Signs Great Lakes Restoration Initiative into Law

With Obama's signature on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, work has quickly begun. One of the guiding documents will be the Wisconsin Great Lakes Strategy from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Read it.

WDNR has a Web page for the GLRI....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

From the Water Library: New Books

We've all changed our clocks and raked our leaves - it must be time for winter... And that's a good time to read a book. Try one on climate change, wetland ecosystems, and sturgeon...

Check it out!

Remember, Wisconsin's Water Library will lend to any Wisconsin resident as well as to students, staff and faculty in the UW system. For more information on how to borrow books, just Ask Water.

Monday, November 2, 2009

UC Water Resources Center Archives' future is uncertain

It's the right time to have a water library.

With the impacts of climate change, pollution, and an ever-increasing human population, water is among the 21st century's most salient issues. It is the foundation for ecosystems and economies.

Everything rests on water.

It's disconcerting, then, to learn that a sister library is now threatened with closure. Located at the University of California, Berkley, the Water Resources Center Archives is one of very few water libraries in the United States. And it's among the best.

Recently, in order to save money, the University of California System ordered the archive absorbed by another institution. But in midst of California's state budget crisis, none have stepped forward. The Water Resources Center Archives' future is uncertain.

Read the Sacramento Bee article: