Water Quality
The Wisconsin Sea Grant program is dedicated to enhancing the quality of coastal waters of Lakes Michigan and Superior by developing local capacity to improve and protect water resources and educating Great Lakes basin residents, visitors and decision makers about the causes and consequences of water quality problems. Wisconsin Sea Grant provides science-based information about the sources, transport and fate of contaminants in the Great Lakes, the cause-and-effect relationships between watershed activities and water quality, and the impacts of coastal development on nearshore habitats.


State of the Bay 2013 Report

The State of the Bay 2013 Report
“State of the Bay: The Condition of the Bay of Green Bay/Lake Michigan 2013” is the first comprehensive look at the ecological health of the region in 20 years. It offers details on the bay’s “dead zone,” the effect of aquatic invasive species, the good news about walleye and more. Read more...


Nuisance and Harmful Algae

Cladophora
During the past ten years, heaps of rotting algae have piled up on some beaches of Lake Michigan.  The offending plant is primarily Cladophora, a common filamentous green alga.  Growing on submerged rocks, it looks like long green hair waving in the water.  Cladophora is an important component of freshwater ecosystems, providing food and shelter for invertebrates and small fish.  The recent excessive blooms in the Great Lakes, however, signal an ecosystem responding to both natural changes and human impacts. Read more...


Cladophora Factsheets, Reports and Conference Proceedings
Read more...


Nuisance and Harmful Algae Photo Gallery
Read more...


Harmful Algal Blooms
Read more...


Wisconsin Clean Marina Program

The Wisconsin Clean Marina Program provides guidance and education that enable marina and boatyard operators to protect the resources that sustain their livelihood — clean water, clean air, and healthy fish and wildlife communities.  The Wisconsin Clean Marina Program promotes and celebrates voluntary adoption of measures to reduce pollution from marinas, boatyards and recreational boats. Facilities that adopt the program recommended practices may become certified as Wisconsin Clean Marinas. Read more...


Lake Michigan: State of the Lake and Great Lakes Beach Association 2013 Conference

The 8th biennial State of Lake Michigan and the 13th annual Great Lakes Beach Association Conference will be held in Sheboygan, October 16th-17th, 2013 at the Blue Harbor Resort, in Sheboygan, WI. Read more...


The Lower Fox River TMDL

Several streams and rivers in the Lower Fox River and Green Bay Basin are impaired due to excess amounts of phosphorus and sediments.  A plan has been developed to improve water quality, know as a Total Maxiumum Daily Load or TMDL for the Lower Fox River and Green Bay. 

Websites for Additional Information:
The Lower Fox River Basin Website
Total Maximum Daily Load and Watershed Management Plan for Total Phosphorus and Total Suspended Solids in the Lower Fox River Basin and Lower Green Bay Report
Wisconsin DNR TMDL Website
Wisconsin DNR Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern Website
EPA Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern Website




Virtual Beach Tutorials

Virtual Beach: Beach Orientation
A screencast to accompany the first of six training modules for the Virtual Beach software. This video walks the viewer through the "Beach Orientation" module. Read more...


Virtual Beach: Data Preparation GBM
A screencast to accompany the second of six training modules for the Virtual Beach software. This video walks the viewer through the "Data Preparation-GBM" module. Read more...


Virtual Beach: GBM Model Creation
A screencast to accompany the third of six training modules for the Virtual Beach software. This video walks the viewer through the "Building & Evaluating Anytime GBM Models". Read more...


Virtual Beach: Data Preparation MLR
A screencast to accompany the fourth of six training modules for the Virtual Beach software. This video walks the viewer through the "Data Prep - MLR" module. Read more...


Virtual Beach: MLR Model Creation
A screencast to accompany the fifth of six training modules for the Virtual Beach software. This video walks the viewer through the "Building & Evaluating MLR Models" module. Read more...


Virtual Beach: Nowcast Creation
A screencast to accompany the final training modules for the Virtual Beach software. This video walks the viewer through the "Making Nowcast Predictions" module. Read more...


Videos

Wisconsin's 2017 Knauss Fellow: Danielle Cloutier
A brief talk with Wisconsin's 2017 Knauss Fellow. For more information about the Dean John A. Knauss Fellowships, please see http://seagrant.noaa.gov/fundingfellowships/knaussfellowship.aspx Read more...


Julia Noordyk: Helping Coastal Communities
Julia Noordyk, Wisconsin Sea Grant's Green Bay-based coastal storms outreach specialist, has been with the organizaiton two years. But she's just begun to get her feet wet. Read more...


Revitalizing Local Waterfront Economies
This video outlines the Great Lakes Legacy Act and highlights benefits it brings to communities. Read more...


Visualizing the Effects of Dioxin on Fish
Some beautiful images convey the deadly effects of the class of chemicals known as dioxin in zebra fish -- and possibly other species, like the very sensitive lake trout. Read more...


Are Flame Retardants Harming Frogs?
In Dr. William Karasov's lab, the northern leopard frog is front and center in a series of research experiments  designed to explore how environmental toxins may be affecting the frog's immune system, growth and development. Read more...


Beyond the Usual Suspects
E. coli bacteria sometimes contaminate the waters of Bradford Beach in Milwaukee. Where does the bacteria come from? How can it be reduced? Dr. Sandra MacLellan cracks the case. Read more...


Part 1: All Washed Up, Lake Michigan's Algae Challenge
Since about 2002, great gobs of algae have been fouling many of Wisconsin's beaches and rocky shorelines.  This video explores the impacts of the problem on tourism spending, property values, and industry. It also presents scientists' understanding of its causes and explains what can be done to solve it. Read more...


Part 2: All Washed Up, Lake Michigan's Algae Challenge
The second part of the full Cladophora video. Read more...


Quagga Mussels Feeding--Speeded Up 10x
Speeded up 10 times, this video emphasizes that quagga mussels are active animals--much more active than washed up shells on a beach would suggest. Read more...


Testing Well Water for Microorganisms
The University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute is funding a new research project to refine a methodology to determine the source of well water contamination.  Read more...


See More Videos on Water Quality
Read more...


Research

Naturalized E. coli in the Beach Environment and Implications for Beach Monitoring

Sandra McLellan, UW-Milwaukee, (414) 382-1710, mclellan@uwm.edu

Beach closings due to contamination by untreated sewage or animal waste are a serious public health threat that has economic consequences. Fecal indicators such as E. coli are harmless organisms meant to demonstrate that pathogens may be present. However, E. coli persists in sand in the absence of any evidence of fecal pollution, suggesting that certain strains are adapted to the sand environment. Researchers have isolated >2500 E. coli from host sources and from sand and are examining genetic differences that could explain their persistence in beach sand. Laboratory experiments, genome sequencing and comparative genomics will identity potential mechanisms of E. coli survival. QPCR assays for strains that are specifically adapted to beach sand are being developed. These assays, combined with other assessment tools, including source tracking approaches, will shed light on the extent to which Wisconsin’s beaches are colonized with reservoirs of persistent E. coli strains. R/HCE-34




The Hydrologic and Ecologic Effects of Green Infrastructure Within Urban Coastal Catchments

Steve Loheide, UW-Madison, (608) 265-5277

There is increasing interest in green infrastructure strategies such as rain barrels, porous pavement, native landscaping, rain gardens and green roofs. Yet widespread adoption of these practices has been slow, in part due to lingering uncertainty in site-specific and lack of engagement by private homeowners. Realistic expectations of performance for sites with different fine-scaled characteristics under a range of weather scenarios is key to executing successful projects that encourage engagement by homeowners. By performing factorial modeling using ParFlow with Common Land Model, we will be able to explore these details at a larger scale than has been done before. By synthesizing our results into a visualization tool and set of guidelines, we will make these results easily accessible to planners, professionals, private residents and students and help to develop an informed citizenry that understands the impact of individual, distributed stormwater management decisions on broader hydrological and ecological outcomes. R/RCE-05




The Impact of Reengineering on Both Beach Water Quality and the Economic Value of the Beach

Greg Kleinheinz, UW-Oshkosh, (920) 424-1100, kleinhei@uwosh.edu
Matthew Winden, UW-Whitewater
Nilay Sheth, UW-Oshkosh

Based on extensive monitoring, researchers at UW-Oshkosh carried out mitigation at five beaches in northern Wisconsin, including redesigning each beach, treating stormwater and naturalizing the shoreline surrounding the beach area to promote natural sand retention and wave action. An unintended benefit of this work has been a significant increase in beach usage at beaches that have undergone these redesign plans. Researchers will assess the physical, chemical and biological water quality parameters after mitigation to ensure the remediation was successful. In addition to these more standard measures, choice valuation and economic impact analysis will be used to determine what features are used by beachgoers who visit a location and how much money they spend on the beach trip. The beach improvement assessment will be of critical importance when other communities assess best management practices at their beaches and whether investment of public funding goes to support mitigation. R/RCE-10




The Role of Indirect Photolysis in the Environmental Fate of Pesticides and Pharmaceuticals

Christina Remucal, UW-Madison, (608) 262-1820, remucal@wisc.edu

The presence of biologically active anthropogenic compounds (e.g., pesticides and pharmaceuticals) in the watersheds of the Great Lakes is of emerging concern to stakeholders and water quality managers. Natural processes, such as dissolved organic matter (DOM)-mediated indirect photodegradation, can transform many of these compounds. However, predicting the photodegradation rates of target compounds is difficult because DOM varies temporally and spatially, and current approaches rely on time- and labor-intensive analyses. The overall goal of our project is to assess how the molecular composition and photochemical reactivity of DOM with anthropogenic compounds changes as it moves from the St. Louis River into the St. Louis Estuary and then into Lake Superior. We plan to develop a transferable tool that will relate the photoreactivity of DOM with simple water quality measurements and predict the photodegradation rates of target compounds in this sensitive ecosystem and other natural waters. R/HCE-31




Outreach

Tackling Barriers to Green Infrastructure
Extreme rainfall events are expected to continue to increase in the Great Lakes region causing more frequent and intense flooding and water quality problems. Green infrastructure is a proven and effective means to improve water quality and habitat. It can reduce flooding damage and stormwater pollution and volume, but there remain critical barriers to its implementation. Based on the work of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, Sea Grant developed “Tackling Barriers to Green Infrastructure: An Audit of Local Codes and Ordinances,” a workbook to help communities audit, revise and prioritize codes to smooth green infrastructure implementation.


Restoring the Health of the Lower Fox River and Green Bay
Lower Green Bay and 14 tributaries in the Lower Fox River Basin do not meet Wisconsin water-quality standards due to low dissolved oxygen. Excessive suspended solids and phosphorous cause nuisance and harmful algal blooms that have led to a dead zone in lower Green Bay. With partners, Sea Grant is working to address the challenges and improve water quality.


Wisconsin Clean Marina Program
Collaborating with the Wisconsin Marine Association and Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, Sea Grant is working with lakes Michigan and Superior marinas to voluntarily adopt measures to reduce pollution from marinas, boatyards and recreational boats. Activities include business training, marina inspector training, a website, and community participation in statewide and regional clean marina planning and guidance efforts.


Related Publications

Visit Our Publications Store
For print and downloadable information about water quality and groundwater, visit our publications store. Read more...


Related Websites

Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)
During 2010, President Obama provided $475 million in new funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). For more information on the GLRI and for a list of GLRI grants awarded, Read more...


Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
The Agreement, first signed in 1972 and renewed in 1978, expresses the commitment of Canada and the United States to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem and includes a number of objectives and guidelines to achieve these goals. Read more...


Great Lakes National Program Office
Read more...


Video on Water Quality
Visit this site to learn more about the effect of cladophora on water quality. Read more...


Lakewide Management Plans
Access Lakewide Managment Plans for each of the Great Lakes. Read more...


Lake Michigan Forum
The Lake Michigan Forum was established as part of the Lake Michigan Lakewide Manangement Plan (LaMP) as the central vehicle for stakeholder participation in developing and implementing the LaMP. Read more...


State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conference (SOLEC)
The State of the Lakes Ecosystem Conferences (SOLEC) and State of the Great Lakes reports are produced jointly by the U. S. EPA and Environment Canada. They provide independent, science-based reporting on the state of the health of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem.  For information on the conference and to access the reports, Read more...


Wisconsin's Water Library
Established in 1964 by the UW Water Resources Institute, Wisconsin's Water Library (formerly known as the Water Resources Library) is unique among UW-Madison's many libraries for its collection of almost 30,000 volumes of water-related information about the Great Lakes and the waters of Wisconsin. The library includes a curriculum collection, dozens of educational videos, a children's collection, and more than 20 journals and 100 newsletters. Read more...

Login