Wisconsin Water Science Center

Water Quality

Water quality is measure of the suitability of water for a particular use based on selected physical, chemical, and biological characteristics. Water-quality monitoring is used to help water-resource managers understand and avert potential negative effects of man-made and natural stresses on water resources. The Wisconsin Water Science Center investigates water-quality issues using new technologies and techniques to study the physical, chemical, biological, geological interactions in rivers, streams, lakes, and groundwater in Wisconsin and across the Nation. Some of the issues we address include the occurrence, distribution, trends, and modeling of pollutants; the relationship between ecological responses and water quality; and the relationships between natural factors, land use, and water quality, in both rural and urban settings.

Filter Total Items: 47
Date published: July 18, 2018
Status: Active

Monitoring and predicting the impacts of trees on urban stormwater volume reduction

Much has been learned about how effectively individual green infrastructure practices can reduce stormwater volume, however, the role of urban trees in stormwater detention is poorly understood. This study will quantify the effect of tree removal on the urban hydrologic cycle and measure the impact that trees have on stormwater runoff volume.

Contacts: William R Selbig, Steve Loheid, Bill Shuster, Dave Nowak
Date published: July 13, 2018
Status: Active

Using optical sensors to detect sewage contamination in the Great Lakes

In the Great Lakes, large volumes of sewage never make it to wastewater treatment plants due to illicit discharges and leaking sewer infrastructure, but contamination can be difficult to detect. This study will define the utility and practicality of using optical sensors to identify the sources and timing of sewage contamination in surface water and storm sewers in real-time field settings....

Contacts: Steven R Corsi
Date published: March 6, 2018
Status: Active

Using leaf collection and street cleaning to reduce nutrients in urban stormwater

Decaying organic materials, like leaf litter, can release excess nutrients into local streams and lakes, causing eutrophication and algal blooms. To determine if a municipal leaf collection and street cleaning program can reduce nutrients in stormwater runoff, the USGS measured phosphorus and nitrogen in stormwater from residential areas in Madison, Wis.

Contacts: William R Selbig, Greg Fries, Phil Gaebler, Paul Dearlove, Christal Campbell, Casey Eggelston, Stephen McCracken
Date published: November 20, 2017
Status: Active

GLRI Urban Stormwater Monitoring

The GLRI Urban Stormwater Monitoring effort brings together the expertise of the USGS with local and national partners to assess the ability of green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff in Great Lakes urban areas.

Date published: June 27, 2016
Status: Active

Edge-of-field monitoring

Edge-of-field monitoring focuses on identifying and reducing agricultural sources of excess nutrients which can threaten the health of streams, rivers, and lakes. Edge-of-field monitoring assesses the quantity and quality of agricultural runoff and evaluates the effectiveness of conservation practices that aim to reduce nutrient loss.

Date published: April 22, 2016

Mercury studies

The USGS Mercury Research Lab is a national leader in advancing mercury research and science, specializing in low-level mercury speciation and isotope analysis and mercury-source fingerprinting. The MRL leads national cutting-edge collaborative studies, including state-of-the-art sample analysis, methods development for field and lab procedures, and data interpretation and dissemination.

Date published: April 20, 2016

Groundwater monitoring and research

Groundwater is an important water resource for Wisconsin. The USGS collects information on the quality and quantity of Wisconsin's groundwater and conducts advanced modeling of groundwater flow and groundwater/surface-water systems. The USGS also evaluates the effects of water-use, land-use, and climate change on groundwater, surface-water, and the ecosystems that rely on them.

Date published: April 19, 2016

Lake monitoring and research

Studying lakes provides an improved understanding of lake ecosystem dynamics and valuable information that helps lead to sound lake-management policies. The USGS collects hydrologic data in lake settings, studies water and nutrient budget development, conducts source-loading analysis, explores groundwater interactions, and performs lake water-quality modeling.

Date published: April 15, 2016

Fluvial geomorphology studies

Fluvial geomorphology studies provide an understanding of the physical processes responsible for shaping the character of streams and their riparian zones across both glaciatied and unglaciated regions of Wisconsin and the midwestern U.S.

Date published: March 29, 2016
Status: Active

TC Chamberlin Modeling Center

The TC Chamberlin Modeling Center provides one-stop access to advanced computing so no project is limited by a lack of computer power. The Center can provide hardware access, assistance with migration and implementation, and training. We also develop, test, and disseminate state-of-the-art computational and analytical techniques and tools so models can be more effectively used in decision-...

Date published: March 27, 2016
Status: Active

Assessing stormwater reduction using green infrastructure: Gary City Hall (Gary, Ind.)

The effectiveness of green infrastructure (rain gardens and decreased impervious surfaces) at reducing stormwater runoff is being assessed at a redevelopment project at Gary City Hall (Gary, Indiana). This study will evaluate pre- and post-construction hydrologic conditions using data collected by monitoring storm-sewer flow, groundwater levels, soil moisture, and meteorological conditions....

Contacts: David C Lampe (IN), Brenda Scott-Henry
Date published: March 27, 2016
Status: Active

Assessing stormwater reduction using green infrastructure: Niagara River Greenway Project (Buffalo, NY)

The effectiveness of green infrastructure (porous asphalt, planter boxes, rain gardens, and the removal of impervious pavements) at reducing stormwater runoff is being assessed at the Niagara Street redevelopment project in Buffalo, New York. This study will monitor pre- and post-construction storm-sewer flow, groundwater levels, evapotranspiration, precipitation, and soil moisture.

Contacts: Brett Hayhurst, Valerie E Shao, Julie Barrett O'Neill