Wisconsin Water Science Center
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.
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SPARROW models for the Great Lakes, Ohio, Upper Mississippi and Red River Basins (MRB3) predict long-term average loads, concentrations, yields, and source contributions of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Great Lakes.
SPARROW models for the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin (MARB) predict long-term average loads, concentrations, yields, and source contributions of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Gulf of Mexico.
WinSLAMM (Source Loading And Management Model): An urban area nonpoint source water-quality model for Wisconsin
The WinSLAMM model is used to identify sources of pollutants in urban stormwater runoff and to evaluate management alternatives for reducing pollutants. USGS studies provide stormwater flow and pollutant-concentration data for calibrating and verifying WinSLAMM for use in Wisconsin.
This study identified major geomorphic processes and factors for Duluth-area streams, assessed their sensitivity to geomorphic change, summarized the effects of the 2012 flood. It also identified channel processes, sediment dynamics, and geomorphic setting can be used to assist managers in post-flood reconstruction activities and stream restoration.
The Bad River has one of the highest sediment loads of all Lake Superior tributaries and is an important resource for lake sturgeon and the Bad River Tribe. This study monitors the effects of streamflow variability on sediment-related problems, including understanding the influence of land cover on hydrology, habitat, erosion and sedimentation rates, and water quality of the Bad River.
The Kalamazoo River, a federal Superfund site, contains sediments contaminated with PCBs from historical paper mills. Dam control and erosion has exposed and mobilized the contaminated sediment, transporting and depositing it downstream. This study determined the historical geomorphic changes, measured bank stability, and evaluated the potential effects of future dam failure and removal...
The USGS is helping develop regional regression curves that relate channel geometry characteristics with streamflow and basin characteristics to improve the design of channel restoration projects for small, ungaged streams with limited data and streamflow relations.
Winnebago pool lakes: Hydrology, water quality, and response to simulated changes in phosphorus loading
The Winnebago Pool Lakes are shallow, productive drainage lakes that have accumulated nutrients from its mixed agricultural/forest watershed and from the Fox River. High phosphorus concentrations often result in severe blue-green algae blooms that can produce harmful toxins. The USGS is evaluating the water quality and phosphorus budget of each lake and modeling eutrophication responses.
Big Green Lake is the deepest natural lake in Wisconsin. Changes in agriculture and urban development have altered the nutrient loading from the watershed and affected the water quality of the lake. This project is quantifying the amount of phosphorus and sediment delivered to Green Lake, measuring its water quality, and providing information about how the lake responds to input changes.
Anvil Lake: Response of lake water quality to changes in nutrient loading, with special emphasis on the effects of changes in water level
Anvil Lake is a relatively shallow, high-quality lake whose water level has dropped dramatically in recent years, adversely affecting the recreational and aesthetic values of the lake. The USGS is developing detailed water and phosphorus budgets, determining groundwater contributions, modeling likely responses to changes in phosphorus loading, and assessing the effect of climate on water...
Eutrophication of Delavan Lake accelerated from the 1940s to 1980s, resulting in a hypereutrophic lake with severe blue-green algae blooms. Extensive rehabilitation efforts were implemented to improve water quality. The USGS measured nutrients, suspended sediment, water quality, and plankton populations to quantify the effectiveness of rehabilitation efforts and guide future management...
To reduce the impact of increasing urban development and recreational use on Geneva Lake, efforts are being made to decrease point- and nonpoint-source pollution inputs. To document Geneva Lake's water quality, the USGS collected water-quality data and developed empirical eutrophication models to demonstrate that reductions in phosphorus loading were related to water-quality improvements.