Friday, August 22, 2014

A little late, but it counts right?

First off sorry everyone for the delay, but I took two long and amazing canoe trips. One of which I had planned since January and one that was a last second idea with a friend. The past two weeks which I spent entirely technology free minus one night that I came home to get supplies and leave for my families annual BWCA trip gave me a lot of time to reflect on my experiences this summer.

I was a part of the hydrology team that included Kyle C, our adviser Matt K, and myself that tracked discharge rates and phosphorus concentrations in the Red Cedar River watershed upstream from Menomonie. We generated discharge curves using a flow meter and correlated the observed discharges with the absolute pressure reading from our stream gauges in Wilson Creek, Tiffany Creek, and the South Fork of the Hay River. From there we used the results of our phosphorus analyses to calculate the total amount of soluble reactive and total phosphorus moving through the system during our observation period this summer.

We also did some of what we called "snapshot" sampling. This involved picking one of the various watersheds in the area and finding a bunch of places where we could access the streams and springs and took samples to try and find stream reaches that had higher concentrations of phosphorus than other similar reaches. We thought that this was valuable because sometimes certain landuse practices were correlated with higher phosphorus concentrations than other landuse practices.

One of the final things that we did was investigate the contribution of groundwater phosphorus to surface water phosphorus concentrations. We did this first by locating multiple springs in the region to analyze for phosphorus and then we moved on to analyzing well water samples as well. We were able to make a few conclusions from this data, but we were unable to gather data on the depths of all the wells we received samples from during our time in Menomonie. Hopefully we will be able to make better conclusions about the sources of this phosphorus in the well water samples after we know the depths of the wells we sampled.

In conclusion I think that we were able to locate multiple interesting phosphorus sources that will need to be investigated further in the next two years that the REU will run. I believe that the data that all 10 students that participated this summer gathered will help out next years students tremendously and hopefully after the LAKES REU is completed the data that it helped gather will allow the various agencies in the region to make more informed decisions on how to effectively implement policies to reduce phosphorus loads in the Red Cedar River watershed.  

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