Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wisconsin Science Festival

Today is the first day of the Wisconsin Science Festival which will run September 27-30 all around the UW-Madison campus and throughout Madison.  Wisconsin's Water Library staff will be volunteering at the "Ask a Science Librarian" table at the  Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery all day today.   Librarians will be available Thursday & Friday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. to help you learn how to use online science search tools, databases, and more. Stop by and pick up a Bucky Go Big Read! poster, register to win a one of three copies of this years's Go Big Read! title, Radioactive, and help yourself to flyers, bookmarks or puzzles. 

The Wisconsin Science Festival is the invention of a growing coalition of scientists, artists, citizens, and organizations passionate about engaging everyone in the wonder and power of science. The organizers plan for the festival to change and expand locations each year so that it is hosted in multiple venues across the state.

Wisconsin Science Festival website here
Link to the program of each day's events here
Printable PDF of the Program Guide here

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

EPA Set To Release New Tool Called The National Stormwater Calculator (SWC)

When heavy rain hits the pavement of a large parking lot it can create havoc when the flood of runoff overwhelms nearby drainage sewers.  The EPA is developing a tool that will give planners and property developers green infrastructure options that can alleviate this runoff burden.  Measures such as rain gardens, rain barrels, and designing natural areas that absorb rainwater can help with the issues associated with stormwater drainage.  Users of the National Stormwater Calculator (SWC) will be able to access a number of databases to determine local soil and weather conditions for their chosen site.   They can then estimate the annual amount and frequency of stormwater runoff for a specific site based on historical rainfall records and predict the potential impact of implementing green infrastructure options.

The National Stormwater Calculator is in the final stages of review and will be available on EPA’s “Models, Databases and Tools for Water Resource Protection” website when completed.

Read about how planners and watershed administrators came up with an innovative method to control phosphorus and sediment runoff on a 70 acre shopping mall parking lot in Minnesota here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council Report Published

The Groundwater Coordinating Council (GCC) recently published its annual evaluation of the state of Wisconsin's groundwater.  Seeking to identify current and future threats, its goals include coordinating groundwater monitoring and research, fostering public education, and identifying effective solutions.

The 2012 GCC Report's recommendations include issues of immediate concern (viruses and other pathogens), efforts that require continued support (implementing a statewide monitoring strategy), and emerging issues that need to be addressed in the near future (frac sand mining).

UW Sea Grant's Director Jim Hurley served on the Groundwater Coordinating Council and subcommittee members from the University of Wisconsin System included Paul McGinley, Maureen Muldoon, Tim Grundl, and Trina McMahon.

Wisconsin's DNR article about the report can be read here
Recommendations: Directions for Further Groundwater Protection can be read here
Link to read the full report here

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

The United States and Canada recently revised and signed the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.  Originally conceived in 1972 as an outcome of the Boundary Waters Treaty to address phosphorus pollution, it was revised in 1978 and expanded with the stated goal “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem.”  This latest revision restates these commitments and expands the provisions to address the following concerns:
  • Aquatic Invasive Species
  • Habitat Degradation
  • Algae Blooms
  • Toxic Chemicals
  • Discharges from Vessels
  • Management of the Nearshore Environment
  • Effects of Climate Change
Seen as a useful step forward for both countries to identify priorities and create policy, the agreement has also raised some criticism for it's lack of legal standards for pollution and penalties for those who violate the terms of the agreement.

Read the entire 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement here
Great Lakes Law blog reports concerns about the public's input into the agreement here