Wisconsin is a state shaped by water. From its western border defined by the Mississippi River to two of the five lakes that make up the world’s largest freshwater system to its north and east, the state is awash in this valuable commodity. The interior is defined by more than 15,000 lakes scattered across counties both rural and urban, more than 5 million acres of wetlands, more than 84,000 miles rivers and streams and 1.2 quadrillion gallons of groundwater.
Two Wisconsin programs provide a statewide and multidisciplinary approach to supporting livelihoods and enhancing lifestyles through the research of, education about and outreach focused on those waters. These programs are the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute and the University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
This new podcast series, Wisconsin Water News, highlights stories previously only available in print from these programs. Series Narrator and Science Communicator Marie Zhuikov brings the stories alive by featuring in-person and phone interviews of the people behind the news.
Playlist for: Wisconsin Water News
The Big Picture on Bluff Erosion Along Lake Michigan - 4/27/23 - Download
High water levels in Lake Michigan since 2013 have caused erosion rates that are faster than usual, especially in 2020, when lake levels set records. This has created an urgent need to know more about erosion processes along and in the lake. Lucas Zoet with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Geoscience and his research team are looking at bluff erosion and sediment movement at two Wisconsin sites along Lake Michigan. They’re doing the project in a holistic way to better understand erosion rates and where the eroding sediment goes. This information will help guide shore protection and bluff stabilization processes and preserve beaches for recreation.
Great Lakes Teacher Mentor Project – 5/16/22 - Download
Teachers with a passion for the Great Lakes are sharing their expertise across the region with other teachers in a program that benefits the educators and their students. The mentor program, organized by the Center for Great Lakes Literacy (or CGLL), is funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
Percolating Pollution – 6/1/22 - Download
A Wisconsin Water Resources Institute project is exploring how bacteria and other water contaminants flow through soil by applying a medical technology usually used for cancer imaging. Chris Zahasky, assistant professor in the Department of Geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, received two years of funding to study soil types in the two most vulnerable geologic settings in Wisconsin for groundwater pollution.
Marine Debris Play Debuts In Door County – 11/17/22 - Download
What empowers people to help the environment and rhymes at the same time? Answer: “Me and Debry,” a half-hour, whimsical, audience-participation play about litter (or marine debris) in the Great Lakes. The play had its “world premiere” in Wisconsin’s Door County in October 2022 before a full house at the town library in Egg Harbor. Starring in it were two local actors: Cassandra Bissell and Neil Brookshire. The play is part of a project designed to harnesses the power of storytelling to engage, educate and inspire performing artists and community members to be committed stewards of their Great Lakes watershed.
The Stories Trees Tell – 1/5/23 - Download
A Wisconsin Sea Grant-funded research and outreach project is designed to explore how the Anishinaabe people connected to and homesteaded the lands of Wisconsin and Minnesota points and how they used fire to manage the landscape. The project name, “Nimaawanji’idimin Giiwitaashkodeng,” translates into “We are all gathering around the fire.” It is being led by Evan Larson with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and Melonee Montano, a Red Cliff tribal member and a University of Minnesota graduate student.
Testing Ceded Territories for PFAS at request of tribes - 4/3/23 - Download
The three-year tribally driven project called, “Quantifying PFAS bioaccumulation and health impacts on economically important plants and animals associated with aquatic ecosystems in Ceded Territories,” was recently funded. The project has three goals: One is to assess aquatic environments for PFAS contamination in the Ceded Territories, two is to determine the accumulation of PFAS in different plants and animals and three is to understand the health impacts from PFAS exposure. The project involves Gavin Dehner with Wisconsin Sea Grant, Jonathan Gilbert with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Emily Cornelius Ruhs with the University of Chicago, Sean Strom with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Christine Custer and Robert Flynn with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Research Survey Aligns the Wisconsin Idea with Water - 8/30/22 - Download
The Wisconsin Idea is one of the longest and deepest traditions surrounding the University of Wisconsin. It promotes the principle that education and the influence of the university need to reach beyond the boundaries of the classroom across the state. Associate Professor of Geoscience Michael Cardiff and his research team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are applying the Wisconsin Idea to groundwater issues. They received two years of funding from the University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute to survey rural residents about their perceptions regarding groundwater quality and quantity. This first-of-its kind water survey will be sent by mail in early 2023 to people who live in rural Wisconsin communities.
Accessible Birding Event Delivers - 10/25/2022 - Download
Barker’s Island in the Duluth-Superior Harbor was the site of a free, bird-focused morning during the fall of 2022. People of all ages and ability levels attended an accessible birding outing led by experts from the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory and the Friends of the Lake Superior Reserve. This free event was made possible through the University of Wisconsin–Madison Dean’s Innovation Grant to collaborators from Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center, the Reserve, Wisconsin Sea Grant, University of Wisconsin Extension, and Bayfield and Ashland counties.
PFAS in Green Bay and Lake Michigan – 1/8/21 - Download
Sea Grant researcher Christina Remucal is looking into the fate of harmful PFAS chemicals in the water and sediments of Green Bay and Lake Michigan. She describes her preliminary results.
Freshwater Steel Corrosion, 1/26/21 - Download
People still tracking the mysterious accelerated corrosion of steel in Lake Superior have discovered the issue is occurring on inland lakes and in a river, as well.
Plastic Free-MKE Project, 3/15/21 - Download
Deidre Peroff and Belle Pappalardo are working with Milwaukee Riverkeeper on a project designed to educate school children about microplastics and reduce the amount of plastics entering Lake Michigan.
Healthy Potatoes and Healthy Water – 4/1/21 - Download
Kevin Masarik with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is working to reduce fertilizer pollution in the Central Sands area, a popular place to grow potatoes.
Under the Surface – 7/31/20 - Download
Toben Lafrancois helps lead a unique underwater photography program in northern Wisconsin that uses the healing value and inspiration of spending time in water to aid youths facing significant mental health challenges, and to educate middle and high school students.
Fight to Keep Milwaukee Pool – 8/19/20 - Download
Trash Trunk Learning Treasure – 10/29/20 - Download
This new learning kit focuses on trash found in waterways. Sea Grant educators Ginny Carlton and Anne Moser describe what’s in it, who can use it and how to request it.
Great Lakes Shipping and Ice Cover Study, 6/3/21 - Download
Richard Stewart and Daniel Rust at the University of Wisconsin-Superior are undertaking a study that looks at the impacts of reduced ice cover on Great Lakes marine transportation.
Beach Ambassadors Fill Vital Role, 7/8/21 - Download
Radium and Strontium Research – 11/2/21 - Download
Matt Ginder-Vogel and Amy Plechacek with the University of Wisconsin-Madison are studying how interactions between water and rock in Fond du Lac County might result in natural contamination of public and private drinking water wells.
Watershed Education Program, 5/1/20 - Download
A new Lake Michigan project addresses the need for skilled water workers and will enhance an online resource hub to promote cohesive stormwater messaging along the Wisconsin coast. Deidre Peroff, Rebecca Abler and Jacob Fincher describe how they will cooperate.
Boatloads of Lumber, 5/8/20 - Download
Caitlin Zant with the Wisconsin Historical Society describes how they are developing online educational resources about Lake Michigan shipwrecks, along with a field school for budding maritime archaeologists – all with funding from Wisconsin Sea Grant.
Untangling a Complex Phosphorous Issue – 6/15/20 - Download
Sarah Vitale and other researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire are investigating the possibility that phosphorous deep in the aquifer is the driver behind elevated levels of phosphorous in both surface water and groundwater in western Wisconsin.
Making a Promising Treatment for Nitrate Pollution Even Better – 1/21/22 - Download
Joe Sanford with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville has spent his academic career getting his hands dirty. The assistant professor of soil and crop science has been studying uses for biochar, a form of charcoal that’s made by burning wood and plant byproducts (such as pine chips or dried corn plants) under low oxygen conditions.
Use of Fluridone in Lakes – 4/4/22 - Download
Gavin Dehnert with Wisconsin Sea Grant is part of a research team that found the use of the herbicide fluridone in lakes to control Eurasian watermilfoil is a good news, bad news story.
Kenosha Dunes Project, 6/24/19 - Download
Kenosha Dunes is a scenic natural area along Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, the dunes are eroding at an alarming rate. A team of specialists, including Chin Wu, Adam Bechle and Titus Seilheimer, are looking for new solutions to the old problem of erosion in order to save the dunes.
Dangerous Currents Workshop, 7/1/19 - Download
A workshop about dangerous currents on Lake Superior’s South Shore drew community members to Ashland recently. Hear how Chin Wu, Todd Brieby and Deidre Peroff are doing to help with safety measures for swimmers and hear why excursion boat captain Shelly Holland attended the event.
Lake Guardian Teacher Cruise, 7/19/19 - Download
Three Wisconsin teachers joined a dozen others from around the Great Lakes on a week-long research cruise on Lake Erie with scientists. Hear how the teachers built on knowledge they gained during a previous Sea Grant cruise and how their students will benefit from the teachers’ new insights into large lakes. Jody Henseler and Brian Henrickson are interviewed.
Over the Moon Over Manoomin, 7/24/19 - Download
Mystery of Rising Silica Levels, 9/13/19 - Download
Rivers2Lake Education Program, 10/10/19 - Download
Deanna Erickson with the Lake Superior Reserve runs a program designed to connect teachers and students to the Lake Superior Watershed.
Tea and Sunlight, 11/19/19 - Download
AIS Boater Survey, 2/3/20 - Download
Tim Campbell with Wisconsin Sea Grant describes results from a 2018 survey of boaters in Wisconsin regarding their knowledge of aquatic invasive species.
Pow Wow Educator Workshop, 2/7/20 - Download
Educators from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan learned more about Ojibwe culture, treaty rights and water ecology recently thanks to a Sea Grant-sponsored workshop.
Barker’s Island Improvements, 2/26/20 - Download
Changes are coming to Barker’s Island in Superior in 2020 and 2021, all designed to reduce stormwater runoff. Julia Noordyk, Todd Breiby and Andrea Crouse describe what’s up and where the money’s coming from for the improvements.
Road Salt and Groundwater - 2/22/22 - Download
UW-Milwaukee researcher Charles Paradis and his team are studying the year-round impact that road salt has on Wisconsin rivers and the groundwater that feeds them.
Lake Michigan Bluff Restoration – 9/2/21 - Download
A two-year project by three Sea Grant programs seeks to address complex erosion issues on Lake Michigan through an integrated physical, social and community approach. It’s led by Chin Wu with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Listen to the People of the Sturgeon, 4/30/19 - Download
Throughout the process of writing the book, “People of the Sturgeon,” about the culture surrounding surgeon spearing on Lake Winnebago, the authors interviewed 69 community members and researchers. Hear excerpts from two interviews from a new audio collection made possible by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries and the Oshkosh Public Museum.
Meteotsunami-Generated Rip Currents - Download
The Drama of Docks - Download
Gene Clark, our coastal engineer, helps state and local agencies with coastal erosion issues. This is the story of one case of erosion on Madeline Island in Lake Superior that went all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
UW-Madison Researchers Focus on Efficient Water and Nitrogen Use in the Central Sands of Wisconsin - Download
Chris Kucharik and Matthew Ruark have new funding from the Water Resources Institute for a project that will help farmers in the Central Sands Region better manage their nitrogen fertilizer use and improve water quality and quantity in a changing climate.
College Course Uses Lake Superior Watershed as a Climate Change Example - Download
Students from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point received a personal look at current and future impacts of climate change through a new field class the college offered and Wisconsin Sea Grant sponsored. They met with Matt Dahlman of The Nature Conservancy at Caroline Lake Preserve near Mellen, Wisconsin. Then they tromped through the woods for a climate change game with Steven Handler of the U.S. Forest Service. Afterward, they traveled to Odanah to meet with Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission staff. Find out what they learned during their adventures!
Milwaukee River Race Proceeds Swimmingly - Download
In the first swim held in the Milwaukee River in potentially 100 years, 68 people entered the water for a mile-and-a-half race. All but one finished, and nobody got sick. Hear the details from Kirsten Shead with the Milwaukee Water Commons and Deidre Peroff with Wisconsin Sea Grant.
Clean water and more, 5/16/19 - Download
Greg Kleinheinz is in the middle of a Wisconsin Sea Grant project to assess effectiveness of beach redesigns along Lake Michigan. He’s finding that fixing beaches benefits both the environment and economy.
Wisconsin Clean Marina Program Granted a Boatload of Money - Download
A three-year grant of $200,000 will help Wisconsin’s Clean Marina Program last into the future and will encourage more boat marinas to reduce any negative impacts from their operations in Lake Michigan. In this episode, Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Julia Noordyk and the Wisconsin Marine Association’s Michelle Shrider describe what the grant means to the program. Vicki Elkin with the Fund for Lake Michigan explains why her program was willing to provide funds for this important work.
Research in Real Life: Wisconsin Teachers Cruise Lake Ontario - Download
Two Wisconsin teachers joined a dozen others from around the Great Lakes on a week-long research cruise this summer on Lake Ontario with scientists. We spoke with them before their trip aboard the R/V Lake Guardian from Buffalo, New York, to Youngstown, New York, and asked them about their plans for bringing their new watery knowledge back to their classrooms.
Wild Rice is Focus of a Grant for Outreach Efforts in Lake Superior States - Download
Sea Grant Programs in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota will receive federal funds to create a Manoomin (wild rice) toolkit. Leading the effort in Wisconsin will be Deidre Peroff, Wisconsin Sea Grant’s social scientist. Hear what Native American elders have to say about what wild rice means to them.
Sea Grant Helps City Clean Up its Zoning Code “Monster” - Download
The city of Superior is beginning a process, led by Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Julia Noordyk, to review and update city codes and ordinances to reduce stormwater pollution. Hear what Superior Mayor Jim Paine thinks about this effort to make his community more sustainable.
The Art and Science of Sturgeon - Download
A professor’s concern about the condition of the ocean’s coral reefs translated into a unique melding of freshwater art and science once he found himself in the Great Lakes after living in Japan. Learn about how University of Minnesota Duluth’s Ryuta Nakajima curated an art exhibit about sturgeon that’s available to show across the state. Also interviewed is Anne Moser, Wisconsin Water Librarian, who is coordinating venues.
Providing a “Road Map” for Aquaculture in Wisconsin - Download
If you plan to start an aquaculture business in Wisconsin, you’re in luck. Wisconsin is one of the only U.S. states that is mapped out with the aquaculture industry in mind. The mapping tool is available on the Northern Aquaculture Demonstration Facility's web site. Chris Hatleb, professor of fisheries biology at the UW-Stevens Point, describes what it can do, and what it can’t.