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Water, water everywhere focus of new sustainability project
Date:1/6/2011

MADISON An interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is turning a comprehensive lens on Madison's water in all its forms in the lakes, streets, faucets, ground and atmosphere thanks to the National Science Foundation.

Five UW-Madison professors, including two of the campus's most-lauded ecologists, recently received a five-year, nearly $5 million grant from the NSF to study the complex links between the water system and factors such as land use, climate change, human activities, development, and ecosystems. Their work will focus on the Yahara watershed, which includes all of Madison's lakes.

The grant is part of a new NSF Water Sustainability and Climate program that is exploring ways to maintain a sufficient supply and quality of freshwater in the face of changing climate and growing demand, while balancing often-competing needs such as development, agriculture, human use, and conservation.

"There's not a better example of the issues regarding urbanization," says UW-Madison agronomy and environmental studies professor Chris Kucharik, who spearheaded the new project. "Madison is a moderate-sized city that's growing quickly. There is increasing water use due to the growing population, we're experiencing climate change, which is likely to increase extreme weather events, and it's an agricultural watershed."

One focus of the new project is to better understand and predict the effects of policy decisions and other human activities, especially within the context of a changing climate. "When you start putting together all of these different drivers, what might that mean to the future of the watershed in terms of quality of life, sustainability of the environment, the lakes, and our groundwater supplies?" he asks.

Local residents have probably already noticed events such as flooding, runoff into the lakes, unusually high or low lake levels, and algae blooms, Kucharik says, a
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Contact: Chris Kucharik
kucharik@wisc.edu
608-890-3021
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Source:Eurekalert

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