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The Arkansas Water Resources Center publishes this e-newsletter each month to highlight research, faculty, news and important events.
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Arkansas Water Resources Center
Newsletter - June 2015
AWRC Conference, A "Zero Waste" Event!
 
This year, AWRC is teaming up with the Office for Sustainability at the University of Arkansas to make our conference a “zero waste” event. That means that we need to divert at least 90% of waste away from the landfill. We can do this by recycling, reusing water and coffee cups, and filling our plates with only as much food as we’ll eat. We hope you’ll help us in our efforts to lead the way to sustainable use of all our resources.

Please visit our website to register by July 15th and to view the conference agenda. The conference will be held on July 21-22 in Fayetteville.

 We look forward to seeing you there!
Researcher Spotlight on Dr. Scott Osborn

Associate Professor, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering
 
Osborn received a base grant from the Arkansas Water Resources Center through the US Geological Survey 104B program to fund a research project titled “Improving Surface Water Quality by Reducing SOD [Sediment Oxygen Demand] and Nutrients”.
 
The Problem: Many lakes and reservoirs in Arkansas are eutrophic, meaning they contain too much nitrogen and phosphorus.  Eutrophic lakes are susceptible to algal blooms. When too much algae grows in a water body, decreases in dissolved oxygen can occur. This decrease in oxygen is a result of greater dark respiration by the algae, as well as increased respiration by other microorganisms that feed on decaying algae.
 
So What?: In Arkansas, reservoirs are used for recreation and drinking water sources, among other things. The costs of treatment for drinking water plants can increase with excessive algal growth in the water.  Algal blooms can be unsightly, produce toxins, and, as a result of decreases in dissolved oxygen, can lead to fish kills, which can hurt economic revenue from fishing and swimming. Decreases in dissolved oxygen can also cause increases in phosphorus release from sediments, further stimulating the growth of more algae.
 
The Research Question: Osborn wanted to know, is there a better way to get rid of algae from water bodies once it has grown?  Algae tend to capture most of the nitrogen and phosphorus in the water column of lakes and reservoirs, so if the algae can be removed, excess nutrients will be removed as well.
 
The Methods: Osborn co-invented a technology, called the SDOX (see blueingreen.com), which is used to add dissolved oxygen to water.  The SDOX can be adapted to supersaturate water with dissolved air that can be injected into surface water and produce a floating layer of particulate matter (including algae) over a broad area.  The surface layer can be skimmed and algae removed.  This in situ process may be a more economic alternative compared to current methods of removing algae from surface water.  In the lab, Osborn and his team filled aquaria with water, seeded with algae, and spiked with nitrogen and phosphorus to promote eutrophic conditions in the water. Using the SDOX, they pumped water that was super-saturated with air into the aquarium water thereby forcing particulate matter to the surface as a layer of foam.  The foam layer was then removed.  Osborn and his team tested this process at 3 different pressures and either 1, 2 or 4 pulses of super-saturated air. They sampled the water before and after treatment and the foam layer and analyzed for chlorophyll a, total nitrogen, total phosphorus and suspended solids.
 
The Findings: Aerating the water using the SDOX technology caused algal material to move to the surface and created a nutrient rich foam layer. This foam layer had significantly higher concentrations of nitrogen, phopshorus and suspended solids compared to what was measured in the water column. Operating the SDOX at the highest pressure tested and with a single pulse of air removed the most phosphorus, but the lowest pressure provided the lowest cost of treatment. Overall, the most effective treatments removed an average of 80% of chlorophyll a, 44% of the total nitrogen, 67% of the total phosphorus, and 86% of the total suspended solids.  
 
The Benefits: The SDOX technology modified for use with air can be used in open waters to concentrate algae and nutrients into a surface layer that can be removed from the system in ways that natural processes can’t. Osborn plans to continue this research to study the effectiveness of the process for larger bodies of water and to determine if this process can be economically competitive with currently established methods for treating eutrophic lakes and reservoirs.
Boozman, Cardin Hail Senate Passage of the Water Resources Research Amendments Act
Press release provided by Senator John Boozman 

WRRA-funded projects maximize cost-effective solutions for water resource issues across the country
 
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), both members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), welcomed Senate passage of their bill, (S. 653) to reauthorize federal grant funding for water resources research institutes in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Water Resources Research Amendments Act (WRRA) provides continued federal support for important research on state and regional water challenges. The legislation provides training for hydrologists and other water-related scientists and engineers, and funds public outreach and education on water issues. Each institute is located at a land grant university or another university designated by the governor.  First authorized in 1964, WRRA was most recently reauthorized in 2006, in PL 109-471. The current authorization expired in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011.
 
“I am pleased that my colleagues support this efficient and effective research program which helps Arkansas and other states to solve serious water quality and quantity problems. WRRA allows the Arkansas Water Resources Center and its sister institutions across the country to solve real-world problems like how we can grow crops while using less water and lowering costs. The program accomplishes this while requiring the highest match per recipient of any federal research program. WRRA is the type of cost-effective proven solution that Washington should seek to model other programs after,” Senator Boozman said.
 
 “America’s environmental, economic and public health are intrinsically linked to our ability to dependably access clean, safe water,” said Senator Cardin. “The WRRA helps give our states and territories the tools they need to provide the water access that citizens expect and deserve. In the face of extreme droughts and record flooding, I urge the House of Representatives to take up and pass this commonsense, bipartisan legislation.”
 
The Water Resources Research Amendments Act authorizes $7.5 million per year for grants to water research institutes to fund research that fosters: (a) improvements in water supply reliability; (b) the exploration of new ideas that address water problems or expand understanding of water and water-related phenomena; (c) the entry of new scientists, engineers and technicians into water resources field; and the dissemination of research to water managers and the public.  Grants must be matched by two-to-one with non-federal funding.  In FY 2010, Congress appropriated approximately $5.5 million for this grant program resulting in a $92,335 base grant for each institute.
 
An independent review panel has judged that the Water Resources Research Institutes command significant funding leverage for the modest amount of appropriations required to support it.
 
WRRA further authorizes a national competitive grant program to address regional water issues that is authorized at $1.5 million per year. In FY 2010 approximately $1 million was appropriated. These competitive grants must be matched one-to-one with non-federal funding.
Cave Springs' Illinois River Watershed Partnership Spends Grant to Study Pollution-Reducing Filters
From the NWA Democrat-Gazette, by Jaime Dunaway
 
CAVE SPRINGS -- The Illinois River Watershed Partnership is using a $286,000 grant from the Arkansas Natural Resource Commission to build a phosphorus removal structure [used to treat dissolved phosphorus], which is aimed at improving the quality of drinking water in the watershed, the executive director of the partnership said Friday.

The structure, on a tributary to Osage Creek, should be completed next week, said Delia Haak, the executive director of the partnership. About $12,000 from the grant will be set aside for maintenance of the structure, she said.

"This is new technology, and this project is all based on research," she said. "We want sound science, and once we have data, we can install more of them."

Phosphorus removal structures are landscape filters landowners can use to dissolve phosphorus in rain runoff. The structures use industrial byproducts, including material produced during water treatment, power generation and steel production, that absorb phosphorus from passing water.

While phosphorus and other nutrients, such as nitrogen and carbon, are necessary for a healthy aquatic system, in excess, they promote the growth of algae, which contaminates drinking water, said Andrew Sharpley, a professor at the University of Arkansas who has worked with phosphorus for the past 35 years.

"The bottom line is that everybody wants to reduce phosphorus getting into the Illinois River," Sharpley said. "There's a lot of proactive efforts going on. We all live in the watershed, and we all have to do our part."

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Upcoming Events

June 19, 2015
Surf the Bay
Fairfield Bay, AR

July 8, 2015
Lakes Appreciation Month Snorkeling Boat Tour
Rogers, AR

July 11, 2015
Lakes Appreciation Month Cleanup
Rogers, AR

July 21 - 22, 2015
Arkansas Water Resources Center Annual Conference 
and Construction Site Training and Certification Course
Fayetteville, AR

July 25, 2015
Waterways and Trails Bike Ride
Cave Springs, AR

July 31, 2015
Lakes Appreciation Month Kayak Tour
Rogers, AR
Upcoming Conferences

July 21-22
Annual Watersheds and Research Conference
Arkansas Water Resources Center

October 14-15
60th Midwest Groundwater Conference 
Illinois River Watershed Partnership

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University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service
   Water Quality Program Technician

Delek US
   Environmental Specialist

Ozark Natural Science Center
   Teacher Naturalist

AR Game and Fish Commission
   Division Assistant Chief
Contact Us
 

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