Monday, December 27, 2010

Changes proposed to ballast water rules

From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR):

Published: December 21, 2010 by the WDNR Central Office

MADISON – Wisconsin is proposing to change its requirements for oceangoing ships arriving in its Great Lakes waters. The change would set ballast water discharge standards to those required by the International Maritime Organization. The proposed change reflects the latest science about reducing the risk from invasive species carried in the ships’ ballast water, state officials say.

The proposed modifications to a general permit issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to large oceangoing commercial ships will be the subject of a public hearing January 26 in Superior.

Read the rest of the article.

photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Look what we found on the library website!

The Water Library has not featured this topic in recent months but as we think of new materials to add to our collection, we always visit our topical pages for ideas. And we recommend our users to check it out, too:


From this page, you can find recommended reading lists on a variety of water-related topics. We have suggestions on readings about coastal community planning, green gardening, ice fishing, and more.

And all titles are available for checkout by any Wisconsin resident. Just Ask Water!

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Funds Allocated to Halt Asian Carp

Many efforts are still being made to stop, or reduce the number of, Asian carp spreading to the Great Lakes. Yesterday $47 million in funds were announced that will go toward 13 different projects of prevention.

In addition to creating a lab in Wisconsin where Asian carp DNA will be sampled, pathways into the Great Lakes are going to be examined with hopes of finding ways to block the route of the fish.

Some of this funding is coming from money that was previously designated by the federal government for clean-up and restoration of the Great Lakes. Arguments have been made that the funding to fight Asian Carp should come from a separate source. For further information, see the Detroit Free Press article.

Photo credit: Brian Kaufman/Detroit Free Press

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Resource on Invasive Species

The National Environmental Coalition on Invasive Species (NECIS) was established in 2003 and is comprised of not-for-profit organizations dedicated to fighting invasive species. It is led by scientists, lawyers, activists, and advocates. Recently, NECIS launched a redesigned website covering invasive species. This resource gathers news and information about invasive species with updates about national policies and initiatives. The site is aimed to improve communication between member groups and the public and prevent the further spread of invasive species in the United States.

For further reading on invasive species, see the Water Library's recommended reading list.

Photo credit: by Mike Bindetti

Monday, December 13, 2010

Students with Climate Change Ideas can Win $50,000

UW-Madison students will have the chance to submit their ideas to the third annual Climate Leadership Challenge. Put on by the Nelson Institute Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), the goal of this competition is to promote students thinking about solutions or products that will combat climate change.

Students from any department are welcome to enter. Proposals will be due on Friday, March 25, 2011. The annual UW-Madison Nelson Institute Earth Day conference will showcase the six winning teams and spotlight the winner of the challenge.

The UW news release provides a bit more background on the competition as well as mentioning some of last years winning ideas. For further reading on climate change, see our recommended reading lists, available by sub-topic.

Photo courtesy of UW SAGE.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Phosphorus Rules in Effect in Wisconsin

Passed in June this year by the Natural Resources Board, the Phosphorus Rules will go into effect this month. Compliance with these rules, basically governing the numeric level of phosphorus that can be permitted to enter the water, will help to keep waters cleaner and will ultimately benefit fish and wildlife, fisheries, waterfront property owners, and recreational water users among others. Some of the negative effects of phosphorus include "toxic algae, excessive weed growth and murky water" (WDNR release).

The rules were developed over a period of time based on years of scientific research and evidence. Input from farmers, water treatment systems, manufacturers, food processors, local governments and environmental groups was also essential in their formation. There is also further work being done to help lower the cost of compliance.

For more information, see the WDNR news release.

Photo from

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Another Step in Fox River Cleanup & Restoration

An agreement was reached between the City of Green Bay, Brown County and the Army Corps of Engineers that a sum of $5.2 million go toward cleanup and restoration of the Fox River. Most of this money will be spent on dredging polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminants from the river. Part of this money will also be set aside for future response costs. Officials say this payment shares "reflect the roles of the Corps, the County and the City in the resulting damages to natural resources."(WDNR release) This is one in a series of agreements relating to contamination in the Fox River and Lower Green Bay.

For further information, see the WDNR news release, or their information page about the Fox River/Green Bay Cleanup Project.

Fox River Map courtesty of WDNR.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Road Sealant Responsible for Water Contamination

Water samples have been taken from Alaska to Florida by the USGS and results are in. Contaminated lakes and rivers show a higher concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), on the rise since the 1960s. These contaminants are toxic for fish and other aquatic life.

Researchers have found the main source of the PAHs to be coal-tar-based pavement sealant. One of the most common uses for this material is the squiggly, shiny black lines that seal the cracks in roadways. While effective, this material has a life span of only three to five years and is easily being transmitted into lakes and stream ecosystems. Storm runoff is a common mode of travel for PAHs from the sealant into the lakes.

The USGS news release gives further details, and the full journal article is available in Science of the Total Environment. For further reading suggestions, see our recommended reading list on Understanding and Protecting Groundwater.

Photo from

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Clean Marina Update

With the addition of five new marinas yesterday, a total of nine have joined the Clean Marina Program in the last five months. This program, initiated by a collaboration between the Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Wisconsin Marina Association, is meant to help marinas within the state take steps to better protect their natural resources. Voluntarily taking these steps, the marinas also become safer and environmentally friendlier places for all parties involved.

Yesterday's five new additions included The Abbey Marina (Fontana), Gaslight Pointe Marina (Racine), Lakeshore Towers (Racine), Manitowoc Marina and SkipperBud’s Reefpoint Marina (Racine). Beside the nine marinas that have already become certified, there are also several marinas that have pledged "to keep Wisconsin's waterways free of harmful chemicals, excess nutrients, and debris and commit to actively pursue designation as a Wisconsin Clean Marina" (Clean Marina website).

For more details on yesterday's event, see the UW Sea Grant press release.

Photo from the Wisconsin Marina Association website.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Climate Change Adaptation Tools for Addressing Water Issues"

EPA's Watershed Academy has sponsored over 50 free webcast seminars with the intent of educating people on water-related issues. The webinars are free and open to anyone, all you need to do is sign up. For those people who are unable to attend the webinar, a streaming audio version of the training is made available on the EPA's website.

This week's webinar on Thursday, December 2nd, from 12-2pm CST, will be "Climate Change Adaptation Tools for Addressing Water Issues." It will discuss some of EPA's plans for community adaption to climate change, a program to assess climate change vulnerabilities, and case studies addressing climate change impacts. To read a more detailed summary of the webinar, visit the Watershed Academy Seminar page.

To sign up for this week's webinar, click here. For reading lists of climate change materials related to water, divided by subject, visit our library's page. A reading list with climate change materials for children can be found on our site as well.

Photo from EPA Watershed Academy website.