They are also partnering with Edgewood College, Wisconsin Public Television and the Lakeshore Nature Preserve to reach students and the public. The planned projects include a new informational "water walk" along the Lake Mendota shore, a series of television programs, and hands-on research opportunities for undergraduates interested in sustainability.
The project is already bringing together a broad base of researchers who span many campus boundaries and whose expertise runs the gamut from the natural and social sciences to engineering. Of the five co-investigators, Kucharik and Rissman are part of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Monica Turner, professor of zoology, and Stephen Carpenter, director of the UW-Madison Center for Limnology, hail from the College of Letters & Science; and Steven Loheide is a professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering. Most of the investigators are also affiliated with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.
"This is a new way of doing things, and UW is really well positioned because of the expertise we have on campus. There are no barriers between colleges," Kucharik says. "We hope to develop the tools needed to manage water resources in the built and natural environments in a way that balances social, economic and environmental considerations and enables future generations to do the same."
Ultimately, he hopes, their findings will be applicable to other urban water systems such as the western Milwaukee-eastern Waukesha County corridor, which is studded with lakes and is undergoing rapid development. But for now, the focus is on the Yahara watershed.
"As a scientist, I want to help solve the problems here. That's why we want to do this," says Kucharik, who himself lives near Token Creek. "But when it's your home territory, it takes on even more meaning."
|Contact: Chris Kucharik|
University of Wisconsin-Madison