Friday, March 26, 2010

AquaLog is going on vacation for a week

Water Library staff will be out of the office next week during UW Madison's spring break. We ask that you take the time to email the library with your water-related ideas for future blog posts. You can send a message to askwater at

Your thoughts and suggestions are very welcome. All ideas will be considered.

We leave you with this image of the day. This juvenile owl has been hanging around the Water Library all week. We've all enjoyed watching and wondering about this wonderful bird. The photo was taken by UW photographer Jeff Miller.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New books on water for kids (and adults alike)

The Water Library has a new list of books for children and their adults!

This winter and early spring, we have added titles on climate change, Lake Superior, rain, and shipwrecks.

Check it out!

The library is continually adding to its collection so we encourage you to check back often to our Kids Library Web site.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sturgeon book wins award!

It was just announced that PEOPLE OF THE STURGEON: WISCONSIN'S LOVE AFFAIR WITH AN ANCIENT FISH has been awarded the 2009 Ellis/Henderson Outdoor Writing Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers.

More details to follow on their Web site but for now congratulation to Kathleen Schmitt Kline, Fred Binkowski and Ron Bruch on this wonderful honor.

To find out how to purchase your own copy of the book, please visit the ASC pubs store.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wisconsin Sea Grant research on perch

A project funded by Wisconsin Sea Grant is attempting to overcome some of the difficulties that have challenged the yellow perch aquaculture industry.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fix a Leak Week!

Besides being the Ides of March, March 15th marks the start of "Fix a Leak Week."

Did you know that an American home can waste, on average, more than 10,000 gallons of water every year due to running toilets, dripping faucets, and other household leaks?

For more information on what you can do, visit the US EPA's Web site.

Read what the city of Madison suggests.

The city of Milwaukee has a reference sheet on how to fix a leaky toilet.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dispelling Groundwater Myths

For Release: March 10, 2010
Kevin Masarik (715) 346-4276,
Carolyn Betz (608) 263-3149,

Stevens Point, Wis. (3/10/2010) -- Groundwater Awareness Week, March 7-13, presents an opportunity to learn more about one of Wisconsin’s most valuable natural resources.

Because groundwater is not visible, it is often misunderstood. Common misconceptions that people have about groundwater can make it difficult to understand the real issues and manage the resource wisely.

Groundwater is a local resource that originates as rain and melting snow which then infiltrates into the ground. This water seeps in between the soil particles or cracks and eventually into rocks beneath the soil. The area where all the empty space is completely filled with water is called the water table. All of the water below the water table is groundwater.

Groundwater is always moving, generally very slowly, through the pore spaces or cracks in the rocks below us. The rate of movement depends mostly on the properties of the underground formation in which groundwater is contained, called the aquifer.

Groundwater typically moves from higher elevations called recharge areas to discharge areas including lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands. Groundwater supplies much of the water to these valuable and enjoyable resources.

In addition to supplying water to surface waters, groundwater is also the source of water for nearly three-quarters of Wisconsin’s residents, for agriculture, and for industries. Everyone with a well on their property relies on groundwater to supply water to their home or business. The same is true for the thousands of cities and villages across the state that obtain their water through municipal wells.

Depending on the well’s depth, the types of soil overlying the land surface, and the type of aquifer into which the well is drilled, most water pumped by wells has often only been in the ground a couple of years or maybe a couple of decades. In some areas of the state with shallow soils overlying fractured bedrock, water from the land surface may reach a well in a matter of days or even hours.

Because groundwater is a local resource, any chemicals that are spilled or applied to the land’s surface have the potential to contaminate the groundwater supply below.

Because we depend on high quality groundwater, we must do our best to protect the quality of this vital resource. We must take extra care to ensure that land-use activities do not pollute water supplies, particularly near municipal and private wells. Limiting or restricting the types of land-uses allowed near wells is an important tool that communities can use to protect their groundwater supply.

Visit for links to additional information to help celebrate groundwater awareness week.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book of the day: A Deadly Voyage

Today's read is called, Deadly voyage : the S.S. Daniel J. Morrell tragedy.

From the publisher:

This is the harrowing story of one of the worst shipwrecks in Great Lakes history. In the early morning hours of November 29, 1966, the S.S. Daniel J. Morrell was caught in a deadly storm on Lake Huron. Waves higher than the ship crested over it, and winds exceeding sixty miles per hour whipped at its hull, splitting the 603-foot freighter into two giant pieces. Amazingly, after the bow went down, the stern blindly powered itself through the stormy seas for another five miles! Twenty-eight men drowned in the icy waters of Lake Huron, but one sailor — 26-year-old Dennis Hale — miraculously survived the treacherous storm. Wearing only boxer shorts, a lifejacket, and a pea coat, Hale clung to a life raft in near-freezing temperatures for 38 hours until he was rescued late in the afternoon of the following day. Three of his fellow crewmates died in his raft.

In Deadly Voyage, Andrew Kantar recounts this tale of tragedy and triumph on Lake Huron. Informed by meticulous research and the eyewitness details provided by Hale, and illustrated with photographs from the Coast Guard search and rescue operation, Kantar depicts one of the most tragic shipwrecks in Great Lakes history.

This engaging tale is available for checkout from Wisconsin's Water Library. Just askwater at for assistance.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Groundwater Awareness Week!

Well testing urged in a state where less than 11 percent do

MADISON - Water officials’ annual reminder to private well owners to test their water to make sure it’s safe to drink carries added emphasis this year.

DNR recommends you test your well water every year to make sure it's safe for your family to drink.
WDNR Photo

Groundwater Awareness Week, March 7-13, focuses on encouraging private well owners to schedule their water tests, following a recent Wisconsin study suggesting that the vast majority of Wisconsin well owners do not take this important step.

A 2007 study of private well owners in seven Wisconsin counties reported that only 11 percent of participants had tested their well water in the last year. Lori Severtson, RN, PhD, an assistant professor in the UW-Madison School of Nursing who led the study funded by the Great Lakes Regional Water Program and the Medical College of Wisconsin Partnership Program, believes that number is actually lower.

“We’re glad that Groundwater Awareness Week is shining the spotlight on testing because it’s something that all private well owners should do, but often don’t,” says Steve Ales, Department of Natural Resources drinking water and groundwater supervisor for south central Wisconsin.

“Most private wells provide safe drinking water, but conditions can change with time and well owners should regularly test their water to make sure it’s bacteria free.”

DNR recommends that well owners sample their wells once a year for bacteria and any time they notice a change in taste, odor or color. Depending on where they live, there may be other contaminants they should test for regularly as well.

The Test Your Private Well Water Annually page of the DNR Web site features information on what contaminants to test for, a video showing how to properly collect a water sample for accurate testing, and links to lists of laboratories that can do the testing, as well as brochures describing different contaminants.

Few follow testing recommendations to assure safe drinking water

Private well
Owners of private wells, like this one here, are responsible for testing their water to make sure it’s safe to drink.
WDNR Photo

About two-thirds of Wisconsin residents get their drinking water from groundwater wells, compared to half of the population in the rest of the United States. Municipal utilities are required to monitor the water produced by their wells, but private well owners are responsible for testing their own water, Ales says.

Wisconsin has 800,000 to one million private wells, and up to 10,000 new wells are drilled every year. While the state has some of the nation’s most protective groundwater laws and well construction codes, some wells may become contaminated with bacteria that is not filtered out as the water soaks into the ground, says Bob Barnum, DNR drinking water and groundwater supervisor for northeastern Wisconsin.

Surviving bacteria can find its way into the groundwater by moving through shallow fractured bedrock, quarries, sinkholes, inadequately grouted wells or cracks in the well casing. Insects or small rodents can also carry bacteria into wells with inadequate caps or seals.

The UW study suggested that people often don’t test unless they have a special event that triggers them to do so, Severtson says. “One of the strong drivers of testing is circumstances – people are selling their home, getting a new well or having a baby,” she says.

Asked why they did not test, study participants reported that they that they hadn’t noted any problems so far, that they didn’t know what to test for or how to go about it. “People tend to rely on sensory information to inform the need to test water, even though most contaminants cannot be seen, smelled or observed,” Severtson says.

Private well owners may want to test for other contaminants, like nitrate, arsenic or agricultural chemicals depending on the surrounding land use practices in your area, says Rhonda Volz, DNR drinking water and groundwater supervisor for southeastern Wisconsin.

“If you want to know where to start, a good place is to test for bacteria and nitrate. These two things will talk you an awful lot, and if you’re wondering beyond that, talk to a licensed professional,” she said.

To get started testing your water, read through the tips on Test Your Private Well Water Annually and get a test kid from a certified lab by looking at the lists on the DNR Web site or by looking in your phone book for a lab near you.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Ales (608) 275-3311; Rhonda Volz (414) 263-8576; Bob Barnum (920) 662-5188

Friday, March 5, 2010

Atrazine and the African clawed frog

Wisconsin's Water Library's AskWater email reference service often responds to questions about frogs. Cricket frogs, Spring Peeper frogs, Northern Leopard frogs, and, of course, Bullfrogs, there are many species found throughout Wisconsin. From flooded prairie to ephemeral pond, our state provides many habitats for a peaceful evening of frog song.

But frogs also play an important roll as indicator species. Their abundance and overall health often reflect the health of whole ecosystems. Frogs are being carefully watched by scientists.

A new study published by the National Academy of Science analyzes atrazine and it's affect on the African clawed frog. A popular corn herbicide, atrazine is one of the most commonly applied pesticides in the world. And, as a result, it's often found in ground and surface waters. In Wisconsin, for example, a 2005 DATCP survey of 16,000 private wells showed that almost 40% tested positive for it (FY 2009 Groundwater Coordinating Council Report to the Legislature, p. 74).

According to the new study, this is bad for frogs.

Atrazine-exposed males were both demasculinized (chemically castrated) and completely feminized as adults. Ten percent of the exposed genetic males developed into functional females that copulated with unexposed males and produced viable eggs. Atrazine-exposed males suffered from depressed testosterone, decreased breeding gland size, demasculinized/feminized laryngeal development, suppressed mating behavior, reduced spermatogenesis, and decreased fertility.

If you'd like to know more, read the study here.
Or, check out the Wisconsin's Water Library's recommended reading list on frogs.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Meeting to Examine Emerging Challenges for Wisconsin's Water

Annual meeting of the American Water Resources Association–Wisconsin Section. Two hundred researchers are expected to attend this year's meeting.

WHEN: March 4-5, 2010

WHERE: Madison Marriott West, Middleton, Wis., (608) 831-2000

AGENDA: The three plenary speakers are:
  • Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation's Mark Borchardt, who will begin the meeting with a talk on “Groundwater-Borne Viruses and Illnesses Risk: Policy Successes and Failures.”
  • Paul Kent, an attorney with Anderson & Kent, S.C., who will present a talk entitled “Water Law and Wisconsin.”
  • Jonathan Patz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who will present the closing plenary, “Climate Change: Implications for Wisconsin's Water Quality.”
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. Friday morning, March 5, Warren Gebert of the U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Water Science Center will discuss the effectiveness of more than 30 years of stormwater management in Middleton, Wis. Using data from the Pheasant Branch Creek, Gebert and his colleagues found that best management practices used over the last three decades have decreased the annual sediment and phosphorus loads in the creek even as increased urbanization led to higher annual runoff and flood peaks. Since 2002, the annual sediment load has decreased 45 percent and the phosphorus load decreased 48 percent. Other streams draining into Lake Mendota did not show the same decrease, suggesting that Middleton's stormwater management has been largely successful. However, the researchers found that chloride levels from road deicers regularly exceed US EPA standards, a finding echoed in a separate regional and national study that will be presented on Thursday afternoon by Steven Corsi, also of the U.S. Geological Survey Wisconsin Water Resources Science Center.

Following the presentations, at 12:15 p.m. on Friday, March 5, researchers interested in the effects of climate change on Wisconsin's water resources will convene to develop and prioritize water resource management adaptation strategies for the state of Wisconsin that can be applied on local, regional and statewide scales.

A full program and abstracts are available online.

BACKGROUND: The Wisconsin Section of the American Water Resources Association provides an interdisciplinary forum for people involved in all aspects of water resources research and management.

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.

For more information, please contact: Kevin Masarik, President, AWRA Wisconsin Section, (715) 346-4276,

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy birthday, Theodor S. Geisel!

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” - Dr. Seuss.

On March 2, 1904, an American treasure was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Theodor S. Geisel, more commonly known by his pen name, Dr. Seuss, has delighted readers of all ages with his many wonderful books. The Water Library has just two of his titles: 'The Lorax' and 'One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.'

A great way to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday is to participate in the national reading event created in his honor, Read Across America.

To learn more about Dr. Seuss, visit his Web site, Seussville.

And the Library of Congress has a great Web site full of activities and resources around reading.

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Recent acquisitions in the Water Library

"Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush." - Doug Larson

March feels like the longest month of the year when you live in Wisconsin. The days get longer but there is still a foot of snow on the ground in Madison. The vernal equinox happens but that just means the days are only as long as the night. Dreams of green grass and daffodils are just dreams. Happily it is a good month to read and maybe plan your gardening or some summer travel.

Wisconsin's Water Library invites you to check out our new acquisitions list of books cataloged into our library in January and February 2010. The library has been heavily acquiring materials on climate change but there are also new titles on shipwrecks, writing science, and titles on the care and feeding of frogs.

Wish you had a green thumb? How about making that thumb even greener with a few tips and helpful guides to garden in an environmentally safe way? If you prefer to read books about green gardening or environmentally-friendly lawn care, be sure to see our recommended reading list - it's chock full of great readings.

And if you are beginning to make summer plans, be sure to consider our Great Lakes. There is so much to do and see.

Happy reading!