Volume 4 2015

Athelstan Spilhaus

Program and People News

Golden Work by the Sea Grant College Program

In 1963, Athelstan Spilhaus was enroute to the annual meeting of the American Fisheries Society in Minneapolis. In the back of a cab, he was hastily composing the remarks he would deliver in less than an hour to the assembled group of fisheries researchers and managers.

As dean of the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology, he was more than familiar with the land grant college model—research know-how taken off campuses and shared with those who could use the scientifically validated tools and pressure to come up with his talk, he was suddenly inspired—why not propose the same framework as a land grant college except apply it to the nation’s oceans and Great Lakes?

Thanks to lobbying by the tenacious and well- connected Spilhaus and support from Washington heavyweight Sen. Claiborne Pell, the idea gained traction. In 1966, Congress enacted the Sea Grant College. That makes 2016 the 50th anniversary of the academic, government and industry partnership that was designed to “provide for the understanding and wise use of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and the environment.”

There are now 33 Sea Grant programs that support work in every state that has a coastline, along with Puerto Rico and Guam. For the coming year, in each of these programs, celebrations will take place. There is a strong record on behalf of coastal ecosystems and economies to commemorate. One way to view a good representation of the record is to visit the National Sea Grant website 1.usa.gov/1vikghx. Some would say the impacts and accomplishments on those pages are golden. 

New Groundwater Research on Quantity, Quality and Management

The University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute (WRI) is funding five new groundwater research projects, which got underway in mid-summer.

“These efforts are key to our understanding, and ultimate responsible stewardship, of the impres- sive water resources we have within our state,” said Jennifer Hauxwell, WRI’s assistant director for research. “We began the funding cycle last year with a call for proposals that attracted 15 research plans. The suite of submitted proposals represented an incredible array of ideas from an impressive group of scientists from institutions around the state. We then had a rigorous review process that relied on reviews of the proposals from experts around the world as well as our Groundwater Research Advisory Council. In the end, we will invest about $248,000 for the projects that will be undertaken from July 2015 to 2017.”

Hauxwell noted these project details:

■ Preliminary data suggest the rocks of the two Wisconsin underground areas are a natural source for groundwater contamination across west and central Wisconsin, contributing high levels of aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese, nickel, vanadium and zinc that are above the advised levels for consumption, and additionally, lowering groundwater pH. The study to assess these elements is led by Jay Zambito, Michael Parsen and Patrick McLaughlin of the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, a part of the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

■ A UW-Madison researcher, Jean Bahr, will pair with a counterpart at the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, Madeline Gotkowitz, to examine the long- term effects of municipal well pumping on groundwater chemistry induced by changes in ow paths and mixing between aquifers. Mixing water of different ages and chemistry creates environments that may allow for mobilization of undesirable trace elements.

■ Daniel Noguera with UW-Madison and Marc Anderson of UW-Milwaukee will work to develop a sensor that can immediately detect and measure phosphorous and arsenic in groundwater. Those elements are detri- mental in drinking water and this tool would greatly improve monitoring capabilities.

■ Kenneth Genskow with UW-Madison and Kenneth Bradbury, UW-Extension, will explore the means to engage key stake- holders in making sometimes controversial decisions such as high-capacity well permit- ting or projects like mines or land lls.

■ Robert Stelzer, UW-Oshkosh, will investi- gate how groundwater and surface water come together and what conditions in those locations are favorable for microbes to play a role in removing nitrate from water.  

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents