The Second [Business] Day of Christmas: Green Infrastructure: Function

On the [second] day of Christmas, the Iowa Water Center gave to me…descriptions for the breakout session Green Infrastructure: Function.

The following presentations will take place at the Iowa Water Conference in Ames on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 23, 2016. Registration for the conference will open in January.

Native Vegetation in Stormwater BMPs: How to Put the Plants to Work
Chant Eicke, Professional Wetland Scientist, EarthView Environmental, Inc.

Establishing vegetation in stormwater BMPs can be a nightmare, often pushing design professionals toward reliance on aggressive, non-native plant species. By utilizing a few basic planning, design, and maintenance tools, native plants can establish, flourish, and provide superior performance.

Stormwater BMP Designs – Beyond the Designs and Drainage Report
Judith Joyce, Geologist & Professional Wetland Scientist, EarthView Environmental, Inc.

Are your Stormwater BMPs ugly muddy holes, full of sediment and/or weeding vegetation? Was it designed by the numbers, yet still “wrong”? Let’s look beyond the drainage calculations to an understanding on how natural systems work.

Installed BMP’s Can Make A Difference – Come and See How
Monica Smith, PE, President/Design Engineer, Robinson Engineering Company

Robinson Engineering has worked with the staff at the University of Northern Iowa to design and install a number of Best Management Practices in one area of their campus, resulting in increased aquatic habitats and better water quality.

Water Reuse- Retrofitting Last Century Technology for the Future
Meghan Funke, Limnologist, Emmons & Olivier Resources, Inc.

We present a tool that quantifies the benefits (volume and phosphorus capture) and optimizes the design (storage volumes, operations) of stormwater reuse and harvesting systems. Scenario results using the tool show sensitivity to storage size and availability of green space.

The First [Business] Day of Christmas: Day One Plenaries

On the first [business] day of Christmas, the Iowa Water Center gave to me…descriptions for Wednesday’s plenaries.

The following plenary sessions will be presented on March 23, 2016 at the Iowa Water Conference in Ames. Registration for the conference will open in January.

Water Quality in Iowa: What Does the Public Think?
Mary Losch, Professor & Director, Dept of Psychology & Center for Social & Behavioral Research, University of Northern Iowa

Issues of water quality are central to both the physical and the economic well-being of communities and states. Understanding the public’s knowledge of water quality and values placed on various dimensions of water quality is crucial to designing strategies to support evidence-informed decision-making about the issue. This presentation will describe a large statewide quantitative survey designed and conducted by the Center for Social and Behavioral Research at the University of Northern Iowa for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Beginning in February and concluding in early June 2015, more than 2000 adult Iowans were interviewed via telephone (both landline and cell phones) about their knowledge of and attitudes about water quality in the state. Computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) was used to collect data from a sample of adults in Iowa identified through random-digit dialing (RDD). Interview questions addressed 1) environmental literacy and general views on the environment; 2) understanding of water quality and causes of water pollution; 3) participation in recreational activities and/or employment involving water; 4) positive and negative environmental behaviors that could impact water quality; 5) views about and awareness of strategies for improving water quality; 6) perceptions of responsibility for improving water quality and willingness to pay (WTP) or invest in water quality improvement; and, 7) factors (e.g., demographic, sense of place, information sources) that could impact the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions assessed. Key findings from the survey will be presented and discussed.


Zero Discharge City: Is this Real?
Brett Emmons, Sr. Water Resources Engineer, CEO, Emmons & Olivier Resources, EOR

Stormwater management in an over 3,000-acre, hydrologically land locked area in the City of Inver Grove Heights, MN became an obstacle for the community’s growth. The traditional stormwater management approach proved to be cost prohibitive. Driven by cost and impact concerns to the surrounding Marcott Lakes and Mississippi River, the City explored a new approach of strict, zero stormwater runoff discharge policy for all development in the area.

The paradigm shift from the traditional ‘pipe-and-pump’ to an enhanced low impact development (LID) approach was recognized as a new national trend with a 2015 National Excellence in Engineering Award. The enhanced LID-system significantly reduced the area’s initial infrastructure capital cost by $18 million and reduced lifecycle costs. “Argenta Hills”, one of the first developments in the area, proved to be very challenging. It included a large commercial retail and an extensive single family residential development. EOR took advantage of the site’s natural topography by maintaining its regional depressions, mimicking natural hydrology. Infiltration was maximized by strategically locating an extensive “Treatment Train System” of: raingardens, porous pavement areas, pervious paver intersections, vegetated swales, infiltration basins and stormwater harvesting. Not only did this approach reduce cost, it also helped in retaining some of the site’s unique natural characteristics and add amenities.

These new, creative approaches introduced by EOR, generated a new framework and opportunity for the cities to use this first-of-its-kind in the country approach to accomplish water quality and flood control protection.


Think Outside the Treatment Plant to Improve Your Water Quality and Save Money
Eric Thompson, PE, CFM, Senior Water Resources Engineer, MSA Professional Services, Inc.

The City of Lodi, Wisconsin, received a future phosphorus limit of 0.075 mg/L for its wastewater treatment facility. Costs for upgrading the treatment facility to meet the new limit were compared to the anticipated costs of two new watershed-based compliance approaches called Adaptive Management and Nutrient Trading.

Adaptive Management requires that phosphorus loads in the watershed be reduced to the extent that the receiving stream attains the applicable water quality criterion within 20 years, while enabling the treatment facility to maintain a discharge of 0.5 mg/L phosphorus. Nutrient Trading is similar in that it allows reduction of phosphorus in the watershed. However, it does not require compliance to be measured within the stream. The trade-off for this is that nutrient trades must be made at a ratio higher than 1:1 making nutrient trading a safer, but perhaps more costly alternative.

The City of Lodi has prepared a preliminary assessment of alternatives to meet its future phosphorus limit and Adaptive Management would cost roughly half the cost of upgrading the facility. This presentation discusses the development and implementation of the City’s Adaptive Management Project. Elements included assessment of plant operations, sampling for water quality within the receiving stream, and modeling of urban, rural, and farmstead landscapes to determine phosphorus loads. The project also prioritized alternative management practices to reduce phosphorus in the watershed sufficient to achieve permit requirements for the treatment facility.

The 12 [Business] Days of Christmas

We were absolutely “pumped” (get it? a water pun that never gets old) to release the agenda today for the 2016 Iowa Water Conference. But some of you are hungry this time of year – hungry for information (and cookies, maybe). So, to satiate your brains, we present the Iowa Water Conference 12 [Business] Days of Christmas. For the 12 business days leading up to Christmas, we’ll post descriptions of the 32 breakout sessions, 6 plenaries, optional workshop, and special conference extras. The schedule follows below:

Dec 9: Wednesday Plenaries
Dec 10: Green Infrastructure: Function
Dec 11: Strategies for Social Engagement
Dec 14: The Soil/Water Connection
Dec 15: Next Generation of Water  Professionals
Dec 16: Thursday Plenaries
Dec 17: Water Quantity
Dec 18: Current Technology
Dec 21: Green Infrastructure: Benefits and Maintenance
Dec 22: Nutrient Management
Dec 23: Optional workshop
Dec 24: Conference “extras”

Be sure to check in often to learn more about the super schedule we have for this year’s Iowa Water Conference!

Iowa Water Conference preview – Dec 3, 9-10:30

If you’re going to be in Ames the morning of Thursday, December 3, please stop by the 2nd floor of Agronomy Hall from 9-10:30 a.m. The Iowa Water Center will host a poster session featuring the Ames High School Bluestem Institute students and their Project Localize water quality posters (yes, the same ones that will be at our special event in March!).

Come for the coffee and donuts, stay for these incredible posters. Instructors Chad Zmolek, Mike Todd, and Joe Brekke are preparing their students for their presentation at the Iowa Water Conference in March, where the students will partake in a breakout session entitled “Water in Iowa: Voicing the Lexicon” followed by a break where they will exhibit their posters. (Not to mention the gallery session at CY Stephens the evening of March 23!)

If that’s not enough to entice you (as if coffee and donuts didn’t get you hooked in the first place), we will also hand out copies of the full 2016 Iowa Water Conference agendas. This is an exclusive sneak peek into the program for 2016 – the full agenda will be released on the Iowa Water Center website on Friday, December 4, and the Iowa Water Conference website will be updated soon thereafter.

This is an exciting time for water in Iowa – we hope you’ll join us!

Iowa Water Center seeks partners for community arts event

We’ve got something brewing over here at the Iowa Water Center, and we’re pretty excited about it.

This year is the tenth anniversary of the Iowa Water Conference (in its current form), so we thought we’d make it kind of special. The conference agenda (which will be released soon!) is particularly spectacular this year, but we can always do more.

The idea started off that we’d have Luther professors Jodi Enos-Berlage and Jane Hawley bring their Body of Water performance to Ames for conference goers to attend on the first night of the conference. This multimedia approach to water education seemed like a provocative addition to our two-day event, and we’ve had requests for several years to bring back an evening reception/activity for those attending from out of town. A lovely idea!

But then, we learned about a project that local Ames High School students are working on that also combines art and water education. The students within The Bluestem Institute at AHS are creating photo collages combined with text from interviews to define water quality terms from a technical, social and cultural perspective. They’ll be presenting during the Iowa Water Conference, but the work they’re doing is something to behold, so we didn’t want to limit it to conference attendees.

LIGHTBULB. Gallery session before the Body of Water performance. A community event, adjacent to the Iowa Water Conference, but not solely for paid attendees. Invite the community, far and wide.  These unique approaches to water outreach and education need to reach as many people as possible. Our state has some incredibly innovative environmental education efforts (Water Rocks!, anyone?), and it’s our job to display, disseminate, expose and otherwise facilitate learning. We at the Iowa Water Center are on a mission to better the state of water in the state of Iowa. Education and outreach are a big part of that.

But, we can’t do it alone. We want this evening event to be well-attended and free of charge to patrons. So we’re asking for partners – be it financial sponsors, connectors, marketers – whatever you can do to help make this happen, we want to talk to you. If you are interested in learning more or helping us brainstorm, contact us. We can’t wait to talk with you!