UW-Stevens Point: Hosts Wisconsin River water quality improvement symposium

An overview of the Wisconsin River Water Quality Improvement Project will be discussed at a public symposium hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on Friday, March 11.

The informational meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Alumni Room at the Dreyfus University Center. Representatives from municipalities, industries, lake users, sportspersons and citizens are all encouraged to attend.

The five-year project is designed to assess water quality impacts caused by nutrients, primarily phosphorous, from surface water runoff and wastewater discharges. Excess phosphorus causes problems in the rivers’ reservoirs such as low dissolved oxygen which can cause fish kills and extensive blue-green algae blooms that can be toxic to animals and humans and can impact recreation use and river ecology.

The project includes a three-year monitoring program and evaluation of land use in the Wisconsin River Basin. Data is being collected by staff from the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources and UWSP between Merrill and Lake Wisconsin on 21 river and stream sites and 23 reservoir sites including the Big Eau Pleine, Lake DuBay, Lake Wisconsin, Petenwell and Castle Rock flowages. Specially trained citizens from Petenwell and Castle Rock Stewards Association (PACRS) are also collecting data on water quality and algae from the two largest flowages on the river. This information, along with data from industry, municipalities and county land and water conservation departments will be used in models to forecast options for nutrient reduction to effectively improve water quality in the Wisconsin River Basin.

Guest speakers from UWSP, WDNR, PACRS and the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board will talk about the current and future efforts taking place with the project. The symposium will include a multimedia overview of the 430-mile Wisconsin River Basin, as well as presentations about blue-green algae and the impacts it has on recreation, health and community businesses. Project staff will review the data collected from the first year of monitoring and discuss the process for setting phosphorous reductions expressed as total maximum daily loads, or TMDLs. The symposium will conclude with a question and answer period.

The cost is $30 or $40 after by Feb. 25. Student rates are $15. For more information and to register visit http://www.uwsp.edu/cnr/watersheds. Questions can be directed to [email protected] or contact Nancy Turyk, 715-346-4155.