Land use, zebra mussels, chemicals in our water

The Freshwater Society blog publishes a digest of important regional, national and international articles and research on water and the environment. Scan the articles here, then follow the links to read the articles in their entirety where they originally were published.

UM to study Minnesota Valley land use
The University of Minnesota  has received a $4.3 million Water Sustainability and Climate grant over five years from the National Science Foundation to lead a study on the interactions between climate, water and land-use systems in the Minnesota River Basin.

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is the lead institution for this grant that involves researchers from institutions across the country such as the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Johns Hopkins University, Utah State University, University of Washington, Iowa State University, and the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

The researchers will develop a framework for identifying and predicting processes, locations and times that are most susceptible to accelerated change. This framework is envisioned to guide decision and policy making toward a healthy and resilient environment.
The research team chose the Minnesota River Basin as a location for the  research because it encompasses an extremely broad spectrum of natural and human-induced rates of change and sensitivity to land-use practices.

“This grant brings together some of the top scientists and engineers from across the country to study one of the most important issues of our time—water sustainability under climate and human stressors,” said Efi Foufoula-Georgiou, a civil engineering professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering and lead researcher on the grant.
–University of Minnesota News Release

N.D. man ticketed for zebra mussels
Minnesota Conservation Officers Kipp Duncan and Jen Muller pulled into a parking lot in Two Harbors recently and couldn’t believe what they saw — a shopping cart covered with zebra mussels resting in the back of a pickup truck.

“They covered the entire outline of the cart,” Duncan said. “It was pretty amazing to look at. I’ve never seen anything with that many zebra mussels on it.”

The man driving the truck, Bruce A. Hinsverk, 51, of Wahpeton, N.D., told the officers he was on vacation and saw the shopping cart next to two Dumpsters on the Duluth waterfront. He planned to drive up the North Shore to Grand Marais before returning to North Dakota with the shopping cart.

Hinsverk apparently thought it would be cool to have the cart on display at his hair salon, Muller said. What Muller said Hinsverk didn’t know is that it’s against Minnesota law to transport or possess even one zebra mussel or other invasive species, let alone thousands of them.

Hinsverk was cited for unlawfully possessing or transporting a prohibited invasive species and given instructions on how to appeal the charge or pay the $500 fine.
–Duluth News Tribune

Sip of Science focuses on invasives
Mark A. Davis, chair of the biology department at Macalester College will be the guest speaker for an Oct. 10 Sip of Science happy hour.

Davis, who has questioned the value of trying to prevent the spread of invasive species, is the author of a book, Invasion Biology and he wrote and was co-author of the influential essay “Don’t Judge Species on their Origins,” published in Nature in 2011. He has appeared on National Public Radio’s Science Friday.

A Sip of Science is a science happy hour sponsored by the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics at the University of Minnesota. It is a chance to hear about new and exciting research over beer. Come talk with the experts about their efforts to address some of the Earth’s most pressing problems.

The event will be at 5:30 p.m. at the Aster Café, 125 SE Main Street – St. Anthony Main – in Minneapolis.

Swackhamer talks about chemicals in water
Did you know that the U.S. regulates the use of only about 400 of the estimated 60,000 chemicals manufactured and used in this country? And did you know that the U.S. Geological Survey recently found fish with characteristics of “intersex,” the combination of male and female tissue, at 31 percent of the sites that the survey tested. Learn more about chemistry, water quality and the threat to fish, wildlife and – potentially – to humans posed by chemicals that
pass through waste treatment plants and into rivers. View a 13-minute TEDxUMN talk by Deborah Swackhamer, co-director of the University of Minnesota’s Water Resources Center.

Clean Water Act’s 40th anniversary
The package of amendments to federal law that became known as the Clean Water Act was enacted by Congress over President Richard Nixon’s veto on Oct. 18, 1972.  Read a Minnesota Pollution Control essay looking at the law and improvements in Minnesota waters over the 40 years since its enactment.

List of polluted waters grows
Minnesota has just added to its official list of polluted lakes and rivers.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency sent to the Environmental Protection Agency a draft list of 3,642 polluted – the official terminology is “impaired” – lakes, wetlands and sections of rivers and streams. Of those, 511 are new to the list since two years ago. Thirteen water bodies came off the list, some because they were cleaned up, most for technical reasons.

Read the MPCA news release on the listings. Read a Star Tribune article focusing on some good news: Significant improvement  that took Powderhorn Lake in Minneapolis off the list this year. Learn more about the list and seek the water bodies designated as polluted..