NU Water-Related Research in Congressional District 1

The list below shows water-related research being conducted within your district or that affects your district. They are sorted by water topic, then by primary contact's last name.

Displaying 54 records found for Congressional District 1


Topic Centers, Initiatives, and Units
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Kolok, Alan
Unit Biology, UNO
Email akolok@unomaha.edu
Phone 402-554-3545
Web Page http://www.unomaha.edu/envirotox/whoiam.php
Project Information
Title Nebraska Watershed Network
Description

The Nebraska Watershed Network is a student-driven organization that strives to promote water quality awareness through outreach, education and research.

The network works with local individuals, community organizations, schools, and government entities to design and implement projects in the Omaha area associated with water quality and preservation. We aim to engage people with very different abilities, knowledge, and interests to come together for a common goal: increasing the quality of water in Omaha.

Project Support
Project Website https://www.facebook.com/nebraskawatershednetwork/
Report
Current Status Ongoing
Pic 1 Project Image
Pic Caption 1 The Nebraska Watershed Network 
Topic Climate
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hu, Qi (Steve)
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email qhu2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-6642
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=54
Project Information
Title Earlier winter wheat heading dates and warmer spring in the U.S. Great Plains
Other(s) Albert Weiss, School of Natural Resources, aweiss1@unl.edu; Song Feng, School of Natural Resources, sfeng2@unl.edu, P. Stephen Baenziger, Agronomy and Horticulture, pbaenziger1@unl.edu 
Description

Phenological* change of plants is an indication of local and regional climate change, independent of the instrumentation records and associated bias/error. Although some phenological changes have been identified for native and perennial species and used to infer climate change in various regions of the world, little has been known for changes in agricultural plants/crops. This study examined change in the heading or flowering date of a winter wheat cultivar, Kharkof, over 70 years at six locations in the U.S. Great Plains, including Lincoln, Nebraska.

Results showed that the heading or flowering date of the Kharkof occurred 6-10 days earlier in 2004 than in 1948. Because the heading or flowering date of winter wheat is primarily a function of spring temperatures (Xue et al., 2004), the earlier heading or flowering dates indicate warmer spring season temperatures in the region. Further analysis of temperatures showed that this heading or flowering date shift to earlier time is significantly correlated with the increase in spring season (March-May) daily minimum temperatures. Although this signal of warmer spring daily minimum temperatures is obtained from the instrumental records, the confirmation of this signal by changes in the heading or flowering date offers independent evidence for the temperature change, free of possible instrumentation biases or errors. This warming temperature signal is further supported by the result showing a trivial relationship between the heading or flowering dates and winter and spring precipitation at all the study locations. This trivial correlation with precipitation (Q. Hu et al. / Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 135 (2005) 284-290 289) points to rising minimum daily temperatures as the sole explanation of the earlier winter wheat heading dates.

*Phenology is the science dealing with the influence of climate on the recurrence of such annual phenomena of animal and plant life as budding and bird migrations.

Project Support US Department of Agriculture Cooperative Research Project
Project Website
Report Hu_winter_wheat.pdf
Current Status Published in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 2006 135:284-290
Topic Climate
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hu, Qi (Steve)
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email qhu2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-6642
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=54
Project Information
Title Understanding Farmers' Forecast Use from Their Beliefs, Values, Social Norms, and Perceived Obstacles
Other(s) Lisa M. Pytlik Zillig, Center for Instructional Innovation, lpytlikzillig2@unl.edu; Gary D. Lynne, Agricultural Economics, glynne1@unl.edu; Alan J. Tomkins, Public Policy Center, atomkins2@unl.edu; William J. Waltman; Michael J. Hayes, School of Natural Resources, mhayes2@unl.edu; Kenneth G. Hubbard, School of Natural Resources, khubbard1@unl.edu; Ikrom Artikov; Stacey J. Hoffman, Public Policy Center, shoffman3@unl.edu; Donald A. Wilhite, School of Natural Resources, dwilhite2@unl.edu 
Description

Although the accuracy of weather and climate forecasts is continuously improving and new information retrieved from climate data is adding to the understanding of climate variation, use of the forecasts and climate information by farmers in farming decisions has changed little. This lack of change may result from knowledge barriers and psychological, social, and economic factors that undermine farmer motivation to use forecasts and climate information. According to the theory of planned behavior (TPB), the motivation to use forecasts may arise from personal attitudes, social norms, and perceived control or ability to use forecasts in specific decisions. These attributes are examined using data from a survey designed around the TPB and conducted among farming communities in Otoe, Seward and Fillmore counties. These counties were chosen to represent dryland, mixed dryland and irrigated, and mostly irrigated cropping systems typical in the western U.S. Corn Belt region.

There were three major findings:

  1. the utility and value of the forecasts for farming decisions as perceived by farmers are, on average, around 3.0 on a 0-7 scale, indicating much room to improve attitudes toward the forecast value.
  2. The use of forecasts by farmers to influence decisions is likely affected by several social groups that can provide "expert viewpoints" on forecast use.
  3. A major obstacle, next to forecast accuracy, is the perceived identity and reliability of the forecast makers. Given the rapidly increasing number of forecasts in this growing service business, the ambiguous identity of forecast providers may have left farmers confused and may have prevented them from developing both trust in forecasts and skills to use them.

These findings shed light on productive avenues for increasing the influence of forecasts, which may lead to greater farming productivity. In addition, this study establishes a set of reference points that can be used for comparisons with future studies to quantify changes in forecast use and influence.

Project Support US Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Human Dimensions in Global Change Program
Project Website
Report Hu_etal_JAMC_2006.pdf
Current Status Published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 2006 45:1190-1201
Topic Climate
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Irmak, Suat
Unit Biological Systems Engineering
Email sirmak2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-4865
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/sirmak2
Project Information
Title Dynamics of Climate Change in Central Platte Valley, Nebraska, as Indicated by Agro-meteorological Indices over 116 years (1893-2008): Preliminary Analyses
Other(s) Kabenge, Isa Mutiibwa, Denis 
Description

It has been established with a degree of confidence that the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere has increased by about 0.3 to 0.6 degrees C in the late 19th century (IPCC, 1997). Global warming can have substantial impact on agricultural production, water resources, and their interactions, by influencing microclimatic variables that drive plant physiological functions, such as surface air temperature, solar radiation, humidity, wind speed, rainfall frequency and amount, as well as hydrological balances, including evapotranspiration. Knowledge and analyses of long-term historical trends in agro-meteorological and hydrological parameters can aid in water resources design, planning, and man-agement. Historical trends in these variables can also help to relate agro-ecosystem production to climate change. We assessed the long-term trends in climatic variables. We quantified reference evapo-transpiration from solar and net radiation, vapor pressure deficit, wind speed, relative humidity, and air temperature from 1893 to 2008 using measured and estimated climatic data. Both alfalfa-reference and grass-reference evapotranspiration values were computed on a daily time step. We present historical trends in air temperature, relative humidity, preci-pitation, solar radiation, and evapotranspiration from 116 years of climatic observations and modeling results in the Central Platte Valley, Nebraska.

Conclusions from this project are:

  • Missing long-term climatic variables from 1893 to 1986 were reliably estimated for reference ET calculations.
  • Annual total rainfall amount showed an increasing trend over 116 years.
  • Both grass and alfalfa-reference ET fluctuated from year to year, but slightly decreased over the years.
  • Solar radiation slightly decreased due to increased rainfall/cloud cover.
  • Average vapour pressure deficit (VPD) did not change considerably.
  • Aridity index trend indicates a general tendency for Central City, NE area to shift toward more humid conditions, more so in the last 10 years.
Project Support
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Climate
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Lynne, Gary
Unit Agricultural Economics
Email glynne1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-8281
Web Page http://agecon.unl.edu/lynne
Project Information
Title Understanding the Influence of Climate Forecasts on Farmer Decisions as Planned Behavior
Other(s) Ikrom Artikov; Stacey J. Hoffman, Public Policy Center, shoffman3@unl.edu; Lisa M. Pytlik Zillig, Center for Instructional Innovation, lpytlikzillig2@unl.edu; (Steve) Qi Hu, School of Natural Resources, qhu2@unl.edu; Alan J. Tomkins, Public Policy Center, atomkins2@unl.edu; Kenneth G. Hubbard, School of Natural Resources, khubbard1@unl.edu; Michael J. Hayes, School of Natural Resources, mhayes2@unl.edu; and William J. Waltman 
Description

Results of a set of four regression models applied to recent survey data of farmers in Otoe, Seward and Fillmore counties suggest the causes that drive farmer intentions of using weather and climate information and forecasts in farming decisions. The model results quantify the relative importance of attitude, social norm, perceived behavioral control, and financial capability in explaining the influence of climate-conditions information and short-term and long-term forecasts on agronomic, crop insurance, and crop marketing decisions.

Attitude, serving as a proxy for the utility gained from the use of such information, had the most profound positive influence on the outcome of all the decisions, followed by norms. The norms in the community, as a proxy for the utility gained from allowing oneself to be influenced by others, played a larger role in agronomic decisions than in insurance or marketing decisions. In addition, the interaction of controllability (accuracy, availability, reliability, timeliness of weather and climate information), self-efficacy (farmer ability and understanding), and general preference for control was shown to be a substantive cause. Yet control variables also have an economic side: The farm-sales variable as a measure of financial ability and motivation intensified and clarified the role of control while also enhancing the statistical robustness of the attitude and norms variables in better clarifying how they drive the influence. Overall, the integrated model of planned behavior from social psychology and derived demand from economics, that is, the "planned demand model," is more powerful than models based on either of these approaches alone. Taken together, these results suggest that the "human dimension" needs to be better recognized so as to improve effective use of climate and weather forecasts and information for farming decision making.

Project Support US Department of Commerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Human Dimensions in Global Change Program
Project Website
Report Lynne_Climate.pdf
Current Status Published in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology 2006 45:1202-1214
Topic Crop Nutrient Use
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Ferguson, Richard
Unit Agronomy and Horticulture
Email rferguson1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1144
Web Page http://agronomy.unl.edu/ferguson
Project Information
Title Nutrient Management to Benefit Crops and Protect Water Quality
Other(s) Dean Krull, West Central Research and Extension Center, dkrull1@unl.edu 
Description

Ferguson is doing several projects with sites in Merrick and Hamilton counties focused on managing nitrogen applications to both benefit the crop and protect water quality.

  • The Impact of Controlled Release Urea Formulation on Nitrate Leaching Below the Root Zone of Irrigated Corn - Merrick County. This study is measuring nitrate leaching throughout the growing season on a coarse-textured soil planted to irrigated corn. Treatments include different nitrogen fertilizer sources and rates.
  • Relay Cropping Effects on Nitrate Accumulation in the Root Zone - Merrick County. This study evaluates the cumulative effect of the seed corn/winter wheat/relay-cropped soybean on nitrate accumulation in the root zone over the two year cropping system cycle.
  • In-Season Nitrogen Management Using Active Crop Canopy Sensors - Hamilton and Merrick counties. This series of studies on multiple crops (winter wheat, commercial corn, seed corn) at multiple sites investigates the use of active crop canopy sensors to control nitrogen fertilizer application during the growing season, using the crop to detect soil N supply rather than predicting soil N supply through soil sampling.
  • The Use of Polymers to Inhibit Nitrate Movement Below the Root Zone of Irrigated Corn - Merrick County. This study investigates the potential of various soil-applied polymers to retain nitrate in the root zone, preventing it from leaching into the vadose zone and eventually groundwater.
Project Support Central Platte NRD, Department of Agriculture, Agrium Inc., Georgia-Pacific, Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto Co., Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Environmental Trust
Project Website http://soilfertility.unl.edu/index.html
Report
Current Status Underway
Topic Crop Water Use
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Kranz, Bill
Unit Northeast Research and Extension Center
Email wkranz1@unl.edu
Phone 402-475-3857
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/web/bse/wkranz1
Project Information
Title Irrigation Management for Improved Water and Chemical Utilization
Other(s) on field research study on the environmental fate of artificial growth promotents - Daniel D. Snow, School of Natural Resources, dsnow1@unl.edu; Charles Shapiro, Northeast Research and Extension Center, cshapiro1@unl.edu; Terry Mader, Northeast Research and Extension Center, tmader1@unl.edu; Dave Shelton, Northeast Research and Extension Center, dshelton2@unl.edu; Simon Van Donk, West Central Research and Extension Center, svandonk2@unl.edu; Tian Zhang, Civil Engineering, tzhang@unlnotes.unl.edu 
Description

Current Nebraska crop water use rates are based upon field data collected over 20 years ago. Since corn genetics have changed drastically during the past 20 years, this project seeks to provide irrigators in northeast Nebraska with crop water use rates for a range in corn genetics and plant populations. More specifically, this project will determine crop water use rates for corn hybrids developed for maximum yield under high stress and maximum yield under fully irrigated conditions, thus helping to define the impact of reduced irrigation on corn water use rates and grain yield. This project also seeks to use long term modeling of nitrate leaching losses to identify the msot environmentally sound swine manure application strategy. This research will be conducted at the Haskell Ag. Lab. So far a new subsurface drip irrigation system has been installed and equipped with soil water monitoring equipment. Water applications will be based upon 0, 50, 75, and 100% of measured soil water removal for the full irrigation treartment. A fifth water treatment will be initiated at the 50% rate after an additional one inch of water use by the fully irrigated treatment.

Crop water use was monitored for two corn hybrids across a range in irrigation water application levels ranging from rainfed to full irrigation. Treatments included 50%, 75% and 100% of estimated crop water use based on the Modified Penman method. Soil water content was monitored using neutron attenuation and reflectometer soil water sensors to a depth of six feet below the soil surface. A sub-surface drip irrigation system was used to precisely apply irrigation water. Additional data included stage of crop development, dry matter production, stalk nitrates and grain yields. Data will be summarized by year and across a 3-4 year period. Research was undertaken to evaluate the environmental fate of artificial growth promotents used in beef cattle production under funding from the USEPA. One set of female feedlot animals were treated with an implanted growth promotent plus a feed additive while another set received no growth promotents. Surface runoff was monitored and sampled to determine if feedlot runoff contained growth promotents fed to the cattle or their derivatives. Dry manure from 2007 was composted or stockpiled following the feedlot study and was subsequently used in a rainfall simulation study and a soil leaching study. Rainfall simulations were conducted 24 hours after application and one month after application to evaluate the impact of soil residence time of the potential for surface runoff. For each simulation, each manure type from treated and untreated animals was left undisturbed after application, or incorporated using a single disk or moldboard plow plus a single disk. Chemical analysis is currently being performed on samples collected during these field studies. A graduate student will begin work on developing a model application to help predict the potential movement of the artificial growth promotents in a watershed under a range of climatic conditions.

Project Support University of Nebraska-Lincoln Agricultural Research Division
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Crop Water Use
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Kranz, Bill
Unit Northeast Research and Extension Center
Email wkranz1@unl.edu
Phone 402-584-3857
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/web/bse/wkranz1
Project Information
Title Developing Irrigation Management Module of the Hybrid-Maize Corn Growth Model
Other(s) Charles Shapiro, Northeast Research and Extension Center, cshapiro1@unl.edu; Suat Irmak, Biological Systems Engineering, sirmak2@unl.edu; Ken Cassman, Center for Energy Sciences and Research, kcassman1@unl.edu 
Description

A test site about 9 miles southwest of Ord and another site near West Point are being used to calibrate the Hybrid-Maize corn growth model for use in making recommendations for irrigation water applications when water supplies are insufficient to meet local crop water demands. At these locations center pivots are being managed to apply full crop needs on 1/4 and 75% of crop water use on another 1/4 of the system. Weather station data near Ord and soil water content from the field site are being used to help schedule the irrigation. Grain yield, soil water readings, and the producer's recordings of irrigation water applications are being used to document the model predictions. Researchers are collecting crop growth, dry matter production, and grain yield data.

Project Support Nebraska Natural Resources Conservation Service
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Crop Water Use and Water Use Efficiency
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Allen, Craig (advisor)
Unit Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Email callen3@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-0229
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=647
Project Information
Title Agricultural Landuse Change Impacts on Bioenergy Production, Avifauna and Water Use in Nebraska's Rainwater Basin
Other(s) Daniel Uden, School of Natural Resources, daniel.uden@huskers.unl.edu; Rob Mitchell, USDA-ARS; Tim McCoy, Nebraska Game and Parks Wildlife Division; Qinfeng Guan, School of Natural Resources, qguan2@unl.edu 
Description

This study addressed how the conversion of marginally productive agricultural lands in the Rainwater Basin region of south-central Nebraska, U.S.A. to bioenergy switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) might impact ethanol production, grassland bird populations and agricultural groundwater withdrawals. This study also used multi-model inference to develop predictive models explaining annual variation in springtime wetland occurrence and flooded area in the Rainwater Basin.

Results suggest that cellulosic ethanol production from switchgrass and residual maize (Zea mays) stover within existing starch-based ethanol plant service areas is feasible at current feedstock yields, removal rates and bioconversion efficiencies. Throughout the Rainwater Basin, the replacement of marginally productive rowcrop fields with switchgrass could increase ethanol production, conserve groundwater and benefit grassland birds under novel future climatic conditions. However, converting Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) grasslands to switchgrass could be detrimental to grassland bird populations. Predictive wetland inundation models suggest that surrounding agricultural landuse, wetland hydric footprint shape complexity, and autumn and winter precipitation and temperature are strong drivers of springtime wetland occurrence and flooded area in the Rainwater Basin.

Under a modest change scenario, 350 wells on rowcrop fields converted to switchgrass could cease groundwater pumping, conserving 52,064 acre-feet of water annually (2.6% of regional pumping capacity).

Under a extreme change scenario, 737 wells on rowcrop fields converted to switchgrass could cease groundwater pumping, conserving 112,827 acre-feet of water annually (5.6% of regional pumping capacity).

In areas at higher risk for additional irrigation limitations, agriculture groundwater use under the modest change and extreme change scenarios could decrease by 9.6% and 19.1%, respectively.

Click here to read a journal article about this research

Project Support U.S. Geological Survey, Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative
Project Website http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/graduatestudent-member.asp?pid=1373#tab1
Report Uden Landuse Change.pdf
Current Status Completed
Topic Crop Water Use and Water Use Efficiency
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Irmak, Suat
Unit Biological Systems Engineering
Email sirmak2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-4865
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/sirmak2
Project Information
Title Surface energy balance model of transpiration from variable canopy cover and evaporation from residue-covered or bare soil systems
Description

A surface energy balance model (SEB) was extended by Lagos et al. Irrig Sci 28:51–64 (2009) to estimate evapotranspiration (ET) from variable canopy cover and evaporation from residue-covered or bare soil systems. The model estimates latent, sensible, and soil heat ?uxes and provides a method to partition evapotranspiration into soil/residue evaporation and plant transpiration. The objective of this work was to perform a sensitivity analysis of model parameters and evaluate the performance of the proposed model to estimate ET during the growing and non-growing season of maize (Zea Mays L.) and soybeans (Glycine max) in eastern Nebraska. Results were compared with measured data from three eddy covariance systems under irrigated and rain-fed conditions. Sensitivity analysis of model parameters showed that simulated ET was most sensitive to changes in surface canopy resistance, soil surface resistance, and residue surface resistance. Comparison between hourly estimated ET and measurements made in soybean and maize ?elds provided support for the validity of the surface energy balance model.

Three sites located at the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center (ARDC) near Mead, NE, were used for this evaluation. Field area ranges from 49 to 65 ha, providing suf?cient fetch of uniform cover required for adequately measuring mass and energy ?uxes using eddy covariance systems (Verma et al. 2005). Site 1 is an irrigated (center pivot) continuous maize system of 48.7 ha; site 2 is an irrigated (center pivot) maize soybean rotation system of 52.4 ha; and site 3 is a rain-fed maize soybean rotation system of 65.4 ha.

More about this research here in the journal Irrigation Science.

Project Support US EPA, University of Nebraska Program of Excellence, Fondo de Fomento al Desarrollo Cientifico y Tecnologico (Chile)
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Drought
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hanson, Paul
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email phanson2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7762
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=758
Project Information
Title Pre-Historic Drought Records from the Eastern Platte River Valley
Other(s) R. Matt Joeckel, School of Natural Resources, rjoeckel3@unl.edu; Aaron Young, School of Natural Resources, ayoung3@unl.edu 
Description Recent studies have related large-scale dune activity in the Nebraska Sandhills and elsewhere on the western Great Plains to prehistoric megadroughts. At the eastern margin of the Great Plains, however, little or no effort has been expended toward identifying the impacts and severity of these climatic events. The eastern margin of the Great Plains should be of particular interest in paleclimate studies because it represents an important biogeographic boundary that may have shifted over time. In dunes around the present confluence of the Loup and Platte Rivers near Duncan, Nebraska, optical dating contrains, for the first time, the chronology of dune activity in the central-eastern margin of the Great Plains. A total of 17 optical age estimates taken from dune sediments clearly indicate two significant periods of dune activation at 5,100 to 3,500 years ago and 850-500 years ago. These reconstructed time intervals overlap both periods of large-scale dune activity in the Nebraska Sandhills and ancient droughts identified from other paleoclimate proxy records on the western Great Plains. The agreement between results from the eastern margin of the Great Plains and data from farther west indicate that megadroughts were truly regional in their effect. In order to further test a hypothesis of geographically-widespread megadrought effects, future work will date other dune deposits in eastern Nebraska from sites along the Loup and Elkhorn Rivers, as well as dunes in east-central Kansas and western Iowa.
Project Support United States Geological Survey Statemap Program
Project Website
Report Hanson Eastern Platte Valley.pdf
Current Status Published in Geomorphology 103 (2009) 555-561
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Hay, Paul
Unit Extension
Email phay1@unl.edu
Phone 402-223-1384
Web Page http://gage.unl.edu/web/gage/aboutus
Project Information
Title Extension Programming, Gage County, Nebraska
Description

Current programing and research includes a cropping systems rotation study;,earthworm populations in tilled versus no-till fields, water infiltration on tilled versus no-tilled fields, home water wells and treatment systems, and radon indoor air quality.

As of spring 2008 Gage County had:
  • 128 farmers with over 75,000 acres of no-till carbon contracts offered for sale on the Chicago Climate Exchange. Future efforts are focused on water quality cost share efforts targeting atrazine reduction in the Blue River system and unintended consequences of our ethanol and biofuel development in Nebraska.
  • 560 4-H members in 29 clubs and another 1500+ school enrichment contacts every year. Gage County 4-H features active and changing projects to meet youth needs like robotics, GPS training, conservancy breeds, corn rootworm surveys following UNL research guidelines, and 560 5th graders participating in an annual earth festival education program. The festival features seven half hour sessions on water and earth science education held outdoors at Camp Jefferson.
Project Support n/a
Project Website http://www.gage.unl.edu/
Report
Current Status Continuous
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Kranz, Bill
Unit Northeast Research and Extension Center
Email wkranz1@unl.edu
Phone 402-475-3857
Web Page
Project Information
Title Northeast Research and Extension Center - Haskell Agricultural Laboratory
Other(s) Charles Shapiro, Northeast Research and Extension Center, cshapiro1@unl.edu; Dave Shelton, Northeast Research and Extension Center, dshelton2@unl.edu; Sue Lackey, Conservation and Survey, slackey1@unl.edu; Terry Mader, Haskell Ag. Lab, tmader1@unl.edu 
Description

The role of the faculty and staff in this unit is to prevent or solve problems using research based information. Faculty and staff subscribe to the notion that their programs should be high quality, ecologically sound, economically viable, socially responsible and scientifically appropriate. Learning experiences can be customized to meet the needs of a wide range of business, commodity, or governmental organizations based upon the many subject matter disciplines represented. As part of the University of Nebraska, the Northeast Center faculty and staff consider themselves to be the front door to the University in northeast Nebraska. Through well targeted training backgrounds and continuous updating via the internet and other telecommunications technologies, faculty and staff have the most current information available to help their clientele.

The Haskell Ag. Lab is a University of Nebraska research farm located 1.5 miles east of the Dixon County Fairgrounds in Concord. This 320 acre farm was donated to the University of Nebraska by the C.D. Haskell family of Laurel in 1956. A number of demonstrations and projects are going on at the Haskell Ag. Lab, including a riparian buffer strip demonstration and a study to evaluate the effect of irrigation on soybean aphid population dynamics. Other studies focus on:

Subsurface Drip Irrigation: In the spring of 2007 a new subsurface drip irrigation system was installed on a 4 acre portion of the farm with sandy loam soils. The initial objective of the research is to collect field data to document crop water use rates for new corn varieties. Specifically, the work will concentrate on varieties that have different drought resistance ratings to improve the accuracy of the information provided to producers via the High Plains Regional Climate Center. In 2007, two varieties were planted and five irrigation treatments were imposed ranging from dryland to full irrigation. The data will also be used to develop improved local crop production functions for use in the Water Optimizer spreadsheet.

Hormones in Livestock Waste: This project will evaluate the fate of both naturally occurring and synthetic hormones that are associated with solid waste harvested from beef cattle feeding facilities. The research involves: 1) tracking the fate of hormonal compounds from the feedlot into surface run-off that would make its way into a liquid storage lagoon; 2) establishing stockpiled and composted sources of the solid manure removed from the feedlot; and 3) applying stockpiled and composted manure to cropland areas under different tillage systems and native grasses. Once the manure is applied the runoff potential will be evaluated using a rainfall simulator. Research will then focus on whether plants that could be a source of food for wildlife and/or domestic animals take up the hormones. (More information about this project is available; see projects listed under Dan Snow.)

Project Support Varies according to program and project - for more information see http://nerec.unl.edu/ Hormone Project funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Project Website http://nerec.unl.edu/
Report
Current Status Continuous
Topic Extension
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Skipton, Sharon
Unit Southeast Research and Extension Center
Email sskipton1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-3662
Web Page http://www.southeast.unl.edu/staffdir/Skipton_Sharon
Project Information
Title Southeast Research and Extension Center
Other(s) Gary Zoubek, York County Extension, gzoubek@unl.edu 
Description Each day University of Nebraska Extension makes a difference in the lives of adults and youth. The faculty and staff in the Southeast Research and Extension Center and the 28 County Offices work to bring relevant researched based information to people in communities, towns and urban centers. Our efforts rely increasingly on partnerships with government agencies, business, industry, schools and community organizations. Working together with our partners Extension strives to strengthen the social, economic and environmental base of Nebraska's communities. Our programs must be ever-changing as Extension listens and responds to issues as they evolve. The Southeast Research and Extension District is unique because it serves both urban and rural communities Nebraska. The faculty and staff are committed to bringing the resources of the University and its research based information to the individuals and communities of Southeast Nebraska.
Project Support Varies according to program and project - for more information see http://www.southeast.unl.edu/
Project Website http://www.southeast.unl.edu/
Report
Current Status Continuous
Topic Groundwater
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Kranz, Bill
Unit Northeast Research and Extension Center
Email wkranz1@unl.edu
Phone 402-584-3857
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/web/bse/wkranz1
Project Information
Title Demonstrate Improved Irrigation Scheduling and Nitrogen Management Practices
Other(s) Charles Shapiro, Agronomy and Horticulture, cshapiro1@unl.edu; Steve Melvin, Extension, smelvin1@unl.edu; Denny Bauer, dbauer1@unl.edu; Ralph Kulm, rkulm1@unl.edu. 
Description This three-year project demonstrates improved irrigation scheduling and nitrogen management practices. At the research site near Springview, soil water sensors, tipping bucket rain gauges and an ETgage have been installed. Sprinkler packages were changed to apply 10% more water or 10% less water than the farmer normally applies. Soil water sensors and tipping bucket rain gauges document the water applied; chlorophyll meter readings, plant samples, and hand picked yields are collected during the summer.
Project Support Bureau of Reclamation, Nebraska Environmental Trust
Project Website
Report
Current Status Continuing
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Chen, Xun-Hong
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email xchen2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-0772
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=19
Project Information
Title Hydrologic Connections in the Elkhorn River Basin
Other(s) Sue Lackey, Conservation and Survey, slackey1@unl.edu 
Description This project involves investigating the hydrologic connections between streams and the adjacent aquifer systems in the Elkhorn River Basin. Researchers have used a Geoprobe direct-push technique, in-situ permeameter tests, and a thermal camera to collect data in this basin. Research has been conducted in Taylor Creek (west of the City of Madison), in Maple Creek, and two sites in the Elkhorn River near Norfolk and Meadow Grove. Ultimately this data will be used for integrated management of surface and groundwater resources.
Project Support Nebraska Department of Natural Resources, Upper Elkhorn Natural Resources District, Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District
Project Website
Report
Current Status Continuous
Pic 1 Project Image
Pic Caption 1 This image shows our work in the Elkhorn River near Meadow Grove and in Taylor Creek. 
Pic 2 Project Image 2
Pic Caption 2 Direct-push techniques used by UNL researchers for study of stream-aquifer connections in Madison County, Nebraska. 
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Chen, Xun-Hong
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email xchen2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-0772
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=19
Project Information
Title Hydrologic Connections in the Big and Little Blue River Basins
Other(s) Cheng Cheng, School of Natural Resources, ccheng2@unl.edu 
Description Over extraction of groundwater near a stream can lower stream stage and induce streamflow depletion when the stream and aquifer are hydrologically connected. The Little Blue River Basin is an area of intensive groundwater development for irrigation, and the streamflow depletion in this basin was determined by an analog model (Emery, 1966). However, the post audit of the model (Alley and Emery, 1986) suggested that the decline of water-levels was overestimated and streamflow depletion was underestimated. Therefore, it is necessary to re-evaluate stream-aquifer interactions in the basin. In this study, an area is chosen for this analysis from the basin and three main streams -- the Little Blue River, Big Sandy Creek, and Spring Creek are included. Channel sediments and structures play an important role in determining stream-aquifer interactions. Firstly, field and laboratory methods including geoprobe logging and permeameter tests are utilized to investigate the channel deposits in the three main streams in the Little Blue River Basin. Results show that channels have low hydraulic-permeable layers which reduce their hydraulic connections to the adjacent aquifers. Secondly, a groundwater flow model is constructed to identify the hydraulic properties of the aquifer and evaluate streamflow depletion under groundwater withdrawals in the study area. Modeling results indicate that streamflow depletion is very low and aquifer storage loss is the main source of groundwater pumpage.
Project Support Upper Big Blue Natural Resources Distrect, Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District, Little Blue Natural Resources District
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Chen, Xun-Hong
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email xchen2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-0772
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=19
Project Information
Title Groundwater Flow Model for the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District
Other(s) Cheng Cheng, School of Natural Resources 
Description Compared to other parts of Nebraska, the Platte River is wide and thus it is more challenging to characterize its hydrologic connections with the surrounding aquifers. The shallow aquifer consists of the alluvial and glacial deposits and displays strong heterogeneity. A three-dimensional groundwater flow model is developed using Visual MODFLOW to evaluate the impacts of groundwater withdrawals on the stream-aquifer system in the Lower Platte River Basin. The study area is about 65 miles by 50 miles and is located in eastern Nebraska. Two pumping tests were conducted to determine the hydraulic properties of the aquifers and aquitards, which are beneficial for model calibration. In-situ and laboratory permeameter tests of streambed sediments in the Platte River were per-formed to determine the streambed vertical hydraulic conductivity (Kv) values, which play an important role in controlling stream-aquifer interactions. The ground-water flow model integrates the geological, hydrological, precipitation, and soil information. The test-hole logs combining with the irrigation well logs were used to define the hydrostratigraphic units. The model is divided into 5 layers with 201 columns and 195 rows in each layer. The Platte River is simulated by the constant-head boundary package in MODFLOW. The model is calibrated using the groundwater level measurements of the USGS and local Natural Resources District observation wells from January 1950 to December 2004. The time interval of the calibration is divided into 660 stress periods, and each stress period consists of 10 time steps. Trial-and-error calibration is used to determine the hydraulic conductivity, specific yield, and specific storage of the aquifers and aquitards. Furthermore, the values of groundwater recharge and evapotranspiration are estimated by model calibration. After the model is well calibrated, it is used to determine the impacts of groundwater pumping over the 55 year periods on the streamflow in the Platte River.
Project Support Lower Platte North Natural Resources District
Project Website
Report
Current Status Underway
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Chen, Xun-Hong
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email xchen2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-0772
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=19
Project Information
Title Hydrologic Connections in the Central Platte River Basin
Other(s) Mark E. Burbach, Conservation and Survey Division, mburbach1@unl.edu; Cheng Cheng, School of Natural Resources, ccheng2@unl.edu 
Description

The hydrologic properties of channel sediments have an important role in controlling hydrologic process in streams. This study focused on the water exchange between a stream and an aquifer induced by groundwater withdrawal, with the purpose of investigating the interbedded feature of channel sediments and to evaluate its effects on the calculation of streamflow depletion. Field work was conducted at nine study sites between Kearney and Columbus during the summers of 2005 and 2006. Direct-push techniques were used to produce electrical conductivity logs and to collect sediment cores. Permeameter tests were conducted on the sediment cores. Stream-aquifer simulation models were used to evaluate streamflow depletion for various types of channel sediments.

Sediment core samples were categorized into four groups:

  • sand and gravel,
  • sand and gravel with interbedded silt and clay layers,
  • fine sand with silt or clay layers, and
  • silt and clay with some sand and gravel.

In general coarse sediments occur in the western part of the study area, and the amount of fine sand, silt and clay increases eastward along the river. However, the sediments in the top two meters are about the same for all the sites, consisting mainly of sand and gravel.

Project Support Central Platte Natural Resources District, Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District, U.S. Geological Survey (through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Water Center), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Project Website
Report Chen Hydrologic Connections.pdf
Current Status Published in Journal of Hydrology 2008 352:250-266
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Cheng, Cheng
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email ccheng2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472 0772
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/graduatestudent-member.asp?pid=798
Project Information
Title Statistical Distribution of Streambed Vertical Hydraulic Conductivity along the Platte River, Nebraska
Other(s) Xun-Hong Chen, School of Natural Resources, xchen2@unl.edu, Jinxi Song, Deming Wang 
Description Streambed vertical hydraulic conductivity (Kv) plays an important role in understanding and quantifying the stream-aquifer interactions. While several researchers have discussed the spatial variability of streambed horizontal hydraulic conductivity or Kv at one or several close-located sites in a river, they did not develop any statistical distribution analysis of streambed Kv at distant sites along a large river. In this paper, the statistical distribution and spatial variation of streambed Kv at 18 test sites in a 300-km reach of the Platte River in Nebraska are presented. Insitu permeameter tests using the falling-head method were carried out to calculate the streambed Kv values. Fine-grained sediments transported by two tributaries, the Loup River and the Elkhorn River, to the Platte River appear to result in lower streambed Kv values downstream of the confluences between the Platte River and the tributaries. The streambed Kv values were found to be normally distributed at nearly each test site. When the correlated Kv values were eliminated from the grid sampling plots, the remaining independent sub-datasets of streambed Kv values were still in normal distribution at each test site. Furthermore, the combined streambed Kv values upstream of the first confluence between the Platte River and the Loup River was normally distributed, which may be due to the lack of tributaries in-between and thus streambed sediments were well distributed in this reach and belonged to a single population of hydraulic conductivity values. In contrast, the combined dataset of all measurements conducted downstream of this confluence was no longer in normal distribution, presumably as a result of the mixing of different sediment sources.
Project Support Lower Platte North Natural Resources District, Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University of Ministry of Education of China
Project Website
Report Cheng_Distribution.pdf
Current Status Published in Water Resources Management DOI 10.1007/s11269-010-9698-5
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Eisenhauer, Dean
Unit Biological Systems Engineering
Email deisenhauer1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1637
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/faculty/Eisenhauer.shtml
Project Information
Title Hydraulic Characteristics and Dynamics of Beaver Dams in a Midwestern U.S. Agricultural Watershed
Other(s) M. Carla McCullough; Michael Dosskey, USDA Agroforestry Center, mdosskey@fs.fed.us; David Admiraal, Civil Engineering, dadmiraal2@unl.edu 
Description

Populations of North American beaver (castor canadensis) have increased n the past several decades throughout the Midwestern U.S., leading to an increase in the frequency of beaver dams in small streams. Beaver dams form ponds and slow water velocity. Multiple dams create a "stair-step" effect on the water surface profile. The hydraulic and geomorphic influence of beaver dams on streams is the focus of this study.

The study area, Little Muddy Creek watershed in eastern Nebraska, is predominantly in agricultural land use. The main reach of the 3rd-order watershed was surveyed for beaver dams from 2003 to 2005. Dam locations were documented with mapping grade GPS, integrity of dam structure was noted, and upstream and downstream water surface elevations were measured. Failure of dam structure was documented following runoff-producing storms. While some dams were repaired within weeks, others were abandoned and left to degrade, causing a significant and transient change in the water surface profile of the stream.

Tests were conducted in the laboratory to determine discharge-rating curves for a simulated beaver dam. The upstream and downstream slopes and height of the dam were based on field-surveyed characteristics. Initial tests were run using a smoother surfaced dam, followed by tests with sticks attached to the smooth surface mimicking the roughness of a beaver dam. The roughness caused by the sticks significantly altered the stage-discharge relationship of the dam.

Field observations showed that the spatial arrangement and hydraulic condition of beaver dams were temporally dynamic in both short and long term scales. Field and laboratory results indicate that beaver dam structures could be modeled as broad-crested weirs. Other results of the study indicated that 1730 metric ton of sediment were trapped over a 12-year period in an 800-m reach of the stream resulting in an average rise of the streambed elevation of 0.65 m.

Project Support Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Website http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1156&context=usdaarsfacpub
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Franz, Trenton
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email tfranz2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-8718
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=1906
Project Information
Title Advancing the Cosmic-Ray Method
Other(s) Hydroinnova LLC, Quaesta Instruments 
Description

When considering whether to deploy military personnel to remote locations, a critical part of the decision-making process is the over land travel time to that destination which largely depends on the strength of the soil and thus soil moisture. Despite its critical importance in many scientific disciplines our ability to measure soil moisture is largely restricted to small and large spatial scales leaving a critical measurement gap. In this work we will investigate the proximal sensing cosmic-ray neutron method to provide real-time intermediate scale (~0.5 km) soil moisture estimates. The objective of this project is to advance our understanding of the calibration function, which converts the measured property (the intensity of low-energy neutrons) into the variable of interest (the area-average soil moisture). This research will assess the potential and uncertainty of using remote sensing products and global data products to estimate the required local ancillary information for the calibration function as opposed to the current practice of local direct sampling. The use of spatially exhaustive datasets in the calibration function will greatly increase the possibility of using the cosmic-ray neutron probe to collect real-time mobile surveys of accurate soil moisture at intermediate scales.

Project Support US DOD Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory
Project Website http://tfranz2.wix.com/trenton-franz
Report
Current Status Underway
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Korus, Jesse
Unit Conservation and Survey Division
Email jkorus3@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7561
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/staff-member.asp?pid=1010
Project Information
Title Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA)
Other(s)

Paul Hanson, School of Natural Resources / Conservation and Survey Division, phanson2@unl.edu; Sue Lackey, School of Natural Resources / Conservation and Survey Divison, slackey1@unl.edu; Matt Marxsen, School of Natural Resources / Conservation and Survey Division, mmarxsen2@unl.edu

Dana Divine, ENWRA Project Coordinator, ddivine@lpsnrd.org

Visit the Nebraska Maps and More website (http://nebraskamaps.unl.edu/home.asp) to order an excellent publication that describes this project more in-depth, Bulletin 1: Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA) Introduction to a Hydrogeological Study.

 
Description

Eastern Nebraska contains 70% of the state's population, but is most limited in terms of the state's groundwater supplies. The population in this region is expected to increase; thus the need for reliable water supplies is paramount. Natural resources districts (NRDs), charged with ground water management in Nebraska, seek to improve their management plans in response to growing populations, hydrologic drought, and new conjunctive management laws. Detailed mapping and characterization is necessary to delineate aquifers, assess their degree of hydrologic connection with streams and other aquifers, and better predict water quality and quantity.

In a collaborative effort between local, state, and federal agencies, the ENWRA project has been initiated to gain a clearer understanding of the region's groundwater and interconnected surface water resources. These resources can be difficult to characterize because of the complex geology created by past glaciations. Acquiring geologic and hydrologic data in the eastern, or glaciated, part of Nebraska requires the use of multiple, innovative techniques. Currently, little is known about which techniques are most effective and feasible. Once identified, the most effective and feasible tools will be used to provide data, interpretations, and models for improved water resources management.

The ENWRA group has established three pilot test sites for intensive study using a variety of investigative techniques. The goal of the initial work being done at the three pilot test sites is to determine the location, extent, and connectivity of aquifers with surface waters, with the hope of expanding these investigative techniques across other portions of eastern Nebraska. The pilot test sites are located near Oakland, Ashland, and Firth with each site exhibiting differing geologic conditions. The techniques that will be utilized in the study include: 1) helicopter electromagnetic (HEM) surveys; 2) ground-based geophysical surveys; 3) test hole drilling; and 4) geochemical analysis, just to name a few. So far HEM surveys were completed over approximately one township at each site. Other techniques were used to provide "ground truth" data to support the HEM interpretations.

The agencies involved in the ENWRA are:

  • Lower Platte South Natural Resources District
  • Lower Platte North Natural Resources District
  • Papio Missouri River Natural Resources District
  • Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District
  • Lewis and Clark Natural Resources District
  • Nemaha Natural Resources District
  • United States Geological Survey
  • University of Nebraska Lincoln Conservation and Survey Division
  • Nebraska Department of Natural Resources
  • Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Support Nebraska Department of Natural Resources Interrelated Water Management Plan/Program
Project Website http://www.enwra.org/
Report
Current Status HEM surveys are complete and 3-D aquifer diagrams have been prepared. Report Status: Ashland area report has been prepared and is under review and the Firth area report is being written.
Pic 1 Project Image
Pic Caption 1 Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment (ENWRA) Study Sites. 
Topic Hydrology
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Lenters, John
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email jlenters2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-9044
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=743
Project Information
Title On Basin Residence Time and Annual Hydrology: Development of Annual Hydrology Model of the Sandhills Rivers
Other(s) Erkan Istanbulluoglu, University of Washington, erkani@u.washington.edu; Durelle Scott, Virginia Tech, dscott@vt.edu; Tiejun Wang, University of Washington-Seattle, tjwang@u.washington.edu 
Description

Simple models of annual and mean annual basin runoff and evapotranspration, such as the one proposed by Budyko, are useful for investigating the relationship between river flow and climate, and planning water storage structures in basins where long term streamflow measurements are not available. Such models are often based on the assumption that annual precipitation is in balance with annual runoff and evapotranspiration, and change in water storage of the basin is negligible. In basins where groundwater is the dominant source of streamflow this assumption hardly holds.

In this study first we develop a technique to investigate groundwater residence time to identify time scales over which a simple model of mean annual runoff can be meaningfully used. The model is applied in the Niobrara and Loup Rivers. Second we develop an annual hydrology model by solving the rate of change in basin storage. The runoff component of the model is based on the well-known linear reservoir model and a parameterization to characterize runoff on saturated areas. River water storages and streamflow diverted for irrigation are included as inputs in the model. The model explained as high as 80% of the annual variability of runoff in the Niobrara River at the Sparks gage. The model underscores the importance of saturation overland flow in the basin. Finally we used the model to investigate climate change scenarios, including extreme dry and wet conditions, as well as scenarios for the Medieval Warm Period during which Sandhills were destabilized as suggested by geological evidence.

Project presentation at the 2008 Water Colloquium

Project Support National Science Foundation
Project Website
Report Lenters_Groundwater.pdf
Current Status Published "On the role of groundwater and soil texture in the regional water balance: An investigation of the Nebraska Sand Hills", USA, Water Resour. Res., 45, W10413, doi:10.1029/2009WR007733.
Topic Production Agriculture
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Burbach, Mark
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email mburbach1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-8210
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=268
Project Information
Title Personality Characteristics and Conservation Tillage: Understanding Farmers to Improve Surface Water Quality in Tuttle Creek Lake, Kansas
Other(s) Courtney Quinn 
Description

Farmers chose to adopt conservation practices for varying reasons. There are many models of pro-environmental behaviors that include personal, physical, economic, and institutional factors. Models of farmer behavior that include personal factors often only examine farmers' education level and years farming. Testing additional factors would greatly improve our understanding of the relationship between farmers' knowledge, skills, and abilities and conservation tillage. This study examines three potential variables in relation to farmers' conservation tillage practices that benefit surface water quality, environmental attitude, work motivation, and moral reasoning about the environment.

This study focused on the Tuttle Creek Watershed, specifically Gage and Jefferson counties in southeast Nebraska and Washington and Marshall counties in northeast Kansas. Land use in this watershed is primarily agricultural, with approximately 72% in corn, soybean, grain sorghum or other crops, 10% in pastureland, and 10% in woodland. Herbicides are used extensively to control agricultural weeds. Soil infiltration rates in this area range from moderate to very slow. As a consequence, most soils have a moderate to very high potential of transporting contaminants to surface waters. As the base of the watershed, Tuttle Creek Reservoir is listed as impaired for siltation, eutrophication, atrazine and alachlor. Extremely high suspended solids and nutrient loads enter the reservoir during storm events and excessive siltation has occurred in the upper third of the original conservation pool reducing its volume by approximately 30%. In November 2007 4000 mail surveys were delivered to farmers in the study area. Data on the farmers' tillage practices and the personality variables, hypothesized to be antecedents to tillage practices, were collected. 505 surveys were used for this analysis.

Survey results suggest that farmers motivated by tangible rewards, personal standards, and a strong sense of purpose are likely to use conservation tillage. Farmers who obtained a higher degree of education have learned either a concern for the environment or the ability to apply newer conservation technologies. Farmers with higher sales also use more conservation practices. This suggests that income allows farmers to implement practices that may have high initial start-up costs. Farmers who earn a high percentage of their family income from farming also use more conservation practices. A heavy dependence on the success of the farm may cause farmers to have a long-term outlook and see the benefits of using conservation.

The negative relationship between use of conservation tillage and Self-concept External motivation suggests that efforts to encourage adoption of no-till practices need to target the entire farming community. The negative correlation between age and use of conservation tillage and between years farming and use of conservation tillage suggests than younger farmers, and those who have been farming for fewer years, are more interested and willing to use conservation practices. This may be because younger farmers have grown up during a time of concern for the natural environment. Younger farmers may also be less set in their ways and therefore willing to try new practices.

Other personal characteristics should be studied in addition to those studied as part of this project. For example, researchers should investigate whether farmers experience empathy with downstream residents and the distance of concern farmers consider when making decisions. Farmers' need for control, and their perceived ability to create desired change should be researched to discover if correlations or causations exist with likelihood to use conservation tillage.

Project Support USDA
Project Website
Report Burbach_Personality.pdf
Current Status Published in Great Plains Research 2008 Vol. 18:1, 103-114
Topic Property Values
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Shultz, Steve
Unit UNO Real Estate Research Center
Email sshultz@mail.unomaha.edu
Phone 402-554-2810
Web Page http://cba.unomaha.edu/dir/HomePageBio.cfm?id=347
Project Information
Title How Water Resources Limit and/or Promote Residential Housing Developments in Douglas County
Other(s) Nick Schmitz, UNO Real Estate Research Center 
Description

Hedonic price models (HPMs) indicate that homes within Douglas-Papio Creek floodplains 100-year floodplains have sold for 3.9% less than otherwise similar but non-floodplain homes over the 1996 to 2007 time period. Based on these hedonic price impacts in conjunction with the estimated market value of all 1,123 Douglas-Papio floodplain homes, a hypothetical set of upstream flood mitigation projects which would remove all of these homes from the floodplain, would generate $5.3 million in increased property values. However flood mitigation benefits based on avoided flood insurance premiums and/or associated only with home-owners who non-voluntarily purchased floodplains properties are significantly lower.

A second set of HPMs focused on four different man-made lakes in the Omaha area. Lake views increase housing values by between 7% and 18% at the four different lakes and has created $26.7 million in increased housing values. Most of these premiums appear to be captured by landowners and/or developers at the time the lakes are first constructed. It is also evident that increased levels of exclusivity increase the premiums that homebuyers are willing to pay for both lake views and access.

A third set of HPMs found that homeowners:

  1. Willing to pay more for a home near open space if the open space is owned and/or managed by private versus a public entity;
  2. Open space dominated by trees and mowed grasses is preferred over non-mowed areas, and/or sports based recreation areas; and
  3. Homebuyers are willing to pay 1.1% more for clustered open space (LID) designs, and, 2.74% more for open (contiguous) open space (LID) designs than they would for conventional sub-division designs.
Project Support Douglas County, Nebraska Board of Commissioners, U.S. Geological Survey 104B Program (through the UNL Water Center)
Project Website http://unorealestate.org/pdf/UNO_Water_Report.pdf
Report Wtr Res Housing Dev Study Douglas Co.pdf
Current Status Completed - Final Report Available
Topic Riparian Vegetation Water Use
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Kilic, Ayse
Unit Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies
Email akilic@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-5351
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=860
Project Information
Title Estimating Riparian Water Use: An Application of Remote Sensing
Description The goal of this project is to quantify riparian evapotranspiration (ET) by utilzing satellite and air-borne remote sensing data on selected watersheds in the North Platte River. The results will be used to develop guidelines on riparian water use.
Project Support UNL Office of Research Layman Award
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Stormwater Management
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Dvorak, Bruce
Unit Civil Engineering
Email bdvorak1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-3431
Web Page http://www.engineering.unl.edu/civil/faculty/BruceDvorak.shtml
Project Information
Title Development of Storm Water Discharge Pollutant Load Model for Holmes Lake Watershed
Other(s) Dave Rus, U.S. Geological Survey Nebraska Water Science Center, dlrus@usgs.gov; Rock Krzycki, City of Lincoln Public Works and Utilities Wateshed Management, RKrzycki@lincoln.ne.gov; David Admiraal, Civil Engineering, dadmiraal2@unl.edu 
Description A joint study of two Lincoln urban watersheds is on-going, with sampling sites in Taylor Park and Colonial Park in the Holmes Lake Watershed. The study is intended to occur over a five-year period (2008-2012) and will focus on providing semi-continuous water quality and quantity data using in-stream probes and monitors, as well as discrete monitoring data obtained by taking samples to the laboratory. Semi-continuous data that is collected include stream flow rate (gage height), dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and turbidity. Discrete data collected includes dissolved oxygen, conductivity, turbidity, total suspended solids, SSC, nitrate, TKN, total phosphorus, E. Coli, fluoride, chlorine, and chloride. The data will be used to develop correlations between the continuous and discrete monitoring data to then make estimates for the pollutant loadings. The overall goal is to better understand pollutant loadings from urban watersheds.
Project Support U.S. Geological Survey Nebraska Water Science Center, City of Lincoln, Lower Platte South NRD, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Website http://ne.water.usgs.gov/projects/QWmonitoring.html
Report
Current Status Continuing
Topic Stormwater Management
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Dvorak, Bruce
Unit Civil Engineering
Email bdvorak1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-3431
Web Page http://www.engineering.unl.edu/civil/faculty/BruceDvorak.shtml
Project Information
Title Urban Storm Water Quality Characterization for Lincoln, NE
Description

The storm water quality from three watersheds representing different land use patterns were compared in Lincoln, Nebraska. One watershed primarily represented residential land use (51 ha), a second was commercial (145 ha), and third industrial (20 ha). Twenty seven storm events from 1992 to 2007 were utilized for this analysis. Storm water quality data shows that, for most of the water quality parameters, the event mean concentrations (EMCs) and site mean concentrations (SMCs) from the commercial land use watershed were higher than the other two watersheds. At residential watershed, the difference in the COD and TKN SMC values from the other national SMC values was statistically significant. Similar TSS SMC values were found from the three watersheds compared to the national average values, except for commercial land use, which were significantly higher. Many nutrients SMCs, especially TDP and TP, were significantly higher for three watersheds than the national average values.

Fore more on this research read this master's thesis

Project Support City of Lincoln
Project Website http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/civilengdiss/3/
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Stormwater Management
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Dvorak, Bruce
Unit Civil Engineering
Email bdvorak1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-3431
Web Page http://www.engineering.unl.edu/civil/faculty/BruceDvorak.shtml
Project Information
Title Yard Waste Compost as a Stormwater Protection Treatment for Construction Sites
Other(s) David Admiraal, Civil Engineering, dadmiraal2@unl.edu; Thomas Franti, Biological Systems Engineering, tfranti@unl.edu; John Stansbury, Civil Engineering, jstansbury2@unl.edu 
Description

City of Lincoln yard waste compost was used in a two-year field study to compare erosion control treatments. Plots with a north-facing 3 to 1 slope were used. Runoff water quality improvement from three yard waste compost erosion control treatments were compared with two conventional treatments and an untreated control during two growing seasons, using natural events and simulated rainfall. Runoff volume, suspended solids, nutrients, biomass, turf shear strength, and turfgrass color scale were monitored. The most effective compost treatment, a 5-cm thick blown compost blanket, produced 12.7 times less runoff and 9.8 times less sediment load than a straw mat and silt fence treatment. The compost treatments generated eight times more biomass than the straw mat treatments. Root development was significantly better on the compost treatments based on turf shear strength measurements. Tilled-in compost was not as effective as a compost blanket at reducing sediment loss, particularly before the establishment of grass on the plot. The cost of compost treatments was similar to that of straw mat with silt fence treatments.

Read more about this research in the Journal of Water Environment Research

Project Support Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Website http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=534
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Survey
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Joseph Hamm
Unit jhamm2@nebraska.edu
Phone 402-472-5678
Web Page http://ppc.unl.edu/
Project Information
Title Platte River Habitat Partnership Survey
Other(s) Lisa Pytlik Zillig, Public Policy Center, lpytlikz@nebraska.edu, Alan Tomking, Public Policy Center, atomkins@nebraska.edu 
Description

Nebraska’s native prairies are a valued resource and under constant anthropogenic demand and degradation. By engaging land owners in voluntary programs, the Platte River Habitat Partnership aims to restore and enhance this important natural resource. In this project, the Public Policy Center conducted a survey to assess land owners’ perceptions of the Platte River Habitat Partnership to help direct the Partnership’s second phase. Specifically, land owners who live in the region covered by the Partnership but did not participate, and those that did participate in the Partnership were surveyed in order to answer four key questions: 1. How knowledgeable are these land owners about the Partnership? 2. What is the nature of these land owners’ interactions with the Partnership? 3. How is the Partnership itself generally perceived by these land owners? 4. What would encourage land owners who had not participated in the Partnership to participate?

Project Support The Nature Conservancy
Project Website http://ppc.unl.edu/project/PlatteRiverHabitatPartnershipSurvey
Report PRHP_Report.pdf
Current Status Completed
Topic Wastewater
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Bartelt-Hunt, Shannon
Unit Civil Engineering
Email sbartelt2@unl.edu
Phone 402-554-3868
Web Page http://www.engineering.unl.edu/civil/faculty/ShannonBartelt-Hunt.shtml
Project Information
Title The occurrence of illicit and therapeutic pharmaceuticals in wastewater effluent and surface waters in Nebraska
Other(s) Daniel D. Snow, School of Natural Resources, dsnow1@unl.edu; Teyona Damon; Johnette Shockley; Kyle Hoagland, School of Natural Resources, khoagland1@unl.edu 
Description The occurrence and estimated concentration of twenty illicit and therapeutic pharmaceuticals and metabolites in surface waters influenced by wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) discharge and in wastewater effluents in Nebraska were determined using Polar Organic Chemical Integrative Samplers (POCIS). Samplers were installed in rivers upstream and downstream of treated WWTP discharge at Lincoln, Grand Island, and Columbus, downstream of Hastings' WWTP discharge, and from Omaha's effluent channel just prior to it being discharged into the Missouri River. Based on differences in estimated concentrations determined from pharmaceuticals recovered from POCIS, WWTP effluent was found to be a significant source of pharmaceutical loading to the receiving waters. Effluents from WWTPs with trickling filters or trickling filters in parallel with activated sludge resulted in the highest observed in-stream pharmaceutical concentrations. Azithromycin, caffeine, 1,7 - dimethylzanthine, carbamazepine, cotinine, DEET, diphenhydramine, and sulfamethazine were detected at all locations. Methamphetamine, an illicit pharmaceutical, was detected at all but one of the sampling locations, representing only the second report of methamphetamine detected in WWTP effluent and in streams impacted by WWTP effluent.
Project Support n/a
Project Website
Report Bartelt-Hunt_Wastewater.pdf
Current Status Published in Environmental Pollution 2009 157:786-791
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Barrow, Tadd
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email tbarrow2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7783
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=140
Project Information
Title Use of Aluminum Sulfate to Eliminate Algal Toxins and Improve Water Quality
Other(s) Aris Efting, School of Natural Resources, aholz2@unl.edu 
Description

Nutrient loading, particularly phosphorus, has led to accelerated eutrophication of many sandpit lakes throughout Nebraska and has greatly reduced their recreational usage. Water quality problems include nuisance algal blooms, low water clarity, noxious odors, dissolved oxygen depletion, fish kills, and the presence of cyanobacterial algal toxins. Fremont State Lake #20 is a 20 hectare (50 acre) sandpit lake near Fremont, Nebraska and has very high phosphorus concentrations (TP > 130 ppb). The lake has experienced severe cyanobacterial algal blooms the past several years leading to frequent beach closings because of high algal toxin concentrations. From June 2004 through June 2006 the beach was closed for 25 weeks, making this one of the most impacted public lakes in the state for algal toxins. In October 2007, liquid aluminum sulfate was added to the lake to precipitate phosphorus from the water column and to reduce additional phosphorus inputs from the sediments. Compared to pre-treatment conditions, the aluminum sulfate has dramatically reduced water column phosphorus, reduced algal biomass, increased water clarity, and has eliminated algal toxins.

Project presentation at the 2008 Water Colloquium

Project Support Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Bartelt-Hunt, Shannon
Unit Civil Engineering
Email sbartelt2@unl.edu
Phone 402-554-3868
Web Page http://www.engineering.unl.edu/civil/faculty/ShannonBartelt-Hunt.shtml
Project Information
Title Fate and bioavailability of steroidogenic compounds in aquatic sediment
Other(s) Daniel Snow, School of Natural Resources, dsnow1@unl.edu; Alan Kolok, UNO School of Public Health, akolok@mail.unomaha.edu 
Description

Objective: To improve understanding of the role of sediment in the environmental fate, transformation and subsequent bioavailability of steroidogenic compounds. The central hypothesis of this study is that sediment-associated steroids remain bioavailable.

Research Questions: Are sediment-associated steroids bioavailable? How do sediment characteristics influence steroid fate? What biologically active steroid metabolites are produced in sediment?

Project Support National Science Foundation
Project Website
Report
Current Status Ongoing
Pic 1 Project Image
Pic Caption 1 A model of the project's experimental design 
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Comfort, Steve
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email scomfort1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1502
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=21
Project Information
Title Testing the Efficacy of Permanganate to Remediate RDX in the Field
Other(s) Jeffrey Albano, CH2M Hill, Vitaly Zlotnik, Department of Geosciences, vzlotnik1@unl.edu, Todd Halihan, University of Oklahoma State, todd.halihan@okstate.edu, Mark Burbach, School of Natural Resources, mburbach1@unl.edu, Chanat Chokejaroenrat, Department of Civil Engineering, chanat@huskers.unl.edu, Sathapom Onanong, Nebraska Water Center, sonanong2@unl.edu, Wilson Clayton, Aquifer Solutions 
Description

The former Nebraska Ordnance Plant (NOP, Mead, NE) was a military loading, assembling, and packing facility that produced bombs, boosters, and shells during World War II and the Korean War. Ordnances were loaded with TNT, amatol (TNT and NH4NO3), tritional (TNT and Al), and Composition B (approx 60% RDX and 40% TNT). During ordnance production, process wastewater was routinely discharged into sumps and drainage ditches. These ditches became grossly contaminated with TNT and RDX with soil concentrations exceeding 5000 mg kg-1 near the soil surface. When rainfall exceeded infiltration rates, ponded water that formed in the drainage ditches literally became saturated with munitions residues (i.e., reached HE solubility limits) before percolating through the profile. Considering this process proceeded unabated for more than 40 years, it is no surprise that the ground water beneath the NOP eventually became contaminated. Further complicating groundwater concerns were the extensive use of trichloroethylene (TCE) to degrease and clean pipelines by the U.S. Air Force in the early 1960s. As a result, the RDX/TCE contaminant plume under the NOP facilities is estimated at several billion gallons and covers several square miles.

To prevent the contaminated plume from migrating offsite and in the direction of municipal well fields, an elaborate series of eleven extraction wells and piping networks were constructed to hydraulically contain the leading edge of the RDX/TCE plume. Currently this $33 million dollar facility treats approximately 4 million gallons of ground water per day with granular activated carbon (GAC). Annual operating costs are approximately $800,000/year with an estimated treatment time of 125 years. It should be noted that additional remediation efforts will be required in order to remediate the groundwater plumes within 125 years. This will include not only containment but treatment of "hot spots." Future costs will involve the installation of additional wells to contain a larger than originally anticipated plume under one of the load lines.

This project, which builds on previous UNL treatability studies, will test whether permanganate can effectively mineralize RDX to CO2 under in situ conditions. Although chlorinated solvents have been routinely treated with permanganate in the field, very limited data is available on the efficacy of permanganate to remediate RDX in the field. Hence, our research will quantify the effectiveness of permanganate to remove RDX in the field and provide initial cost/benefit data for future scale up considerations and applicability to other sites. Given that a biological treatment of RDX has already been completed at the NOP at the same location (i.e., Biologically Active Zone Enhancement (BAZE) pilot study), a cost/benefit comparison of these two technologies should be feasible once UNL's study is completed.

Project Support U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region VII, U.S. Department of Defense's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program
Project Website
Report Comfort RDX Contamination.pdf
Current Status Published in the Ground Water Monitoring & Remediation 2010 30: 96-106
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Gitelson, Anatoly
Unit Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies
Email agitelson2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-8386
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=39
Project Information
Title Using Remote Sensing to Detect the Threat of Blue-Green Algae
Description

Remote sensing is a useful tool for providing regulatory officials with the data necessary to make decisions regarding recreational waters. In 2005, CALMIT scientists undertook a collaborative effort with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality aimed at developing a tool to identify lakes where blue-green algae populations are present. The overall purpose was to incorporate those affected lakes into a toxic-algae alert procedure to provide early warnings to the public about the potential danger. This project also served to promote coordination and information sharing about toxic-algae issues among local units of government, lake associations, lake owners, and the public.

Both in-situ (close-range) and remote techniques were employed to detect and quantify in real-time the algal phytoplankton pigment concentration and composition (i.e., chlorophyll-a and phycocyanin in the water column). Two criteria were used to identify lakes and reservoirs with high probability of toxic algae: 1) chlorophyll concentration above 50 mg/m3; and 2) existence of blue green algae (the phycocyanin absorption feature has been used to indicate remotely the presence of blue-green algae). These criteria were tested by analytical assessment of toxic algae and the tests were positive: when the sensor systems indicated high probability of toxins, they were found in water samples.

Project Support Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality
Project Website http://www.calmit.unl.edu/research.php
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Gosselin, Dave
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email dgosselin2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-8919
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=42
Project Information
Title Geologic Rehabilitation of Public Water Supply Wells Having High Uranium
Description

The water delivered by Clarks' public water supply wells exceeded the 30 ppb maximum contaminant level (MCL) for uranium. This project tested whether well rehabilitation, hydrogeologic avoidance and well management could be used to reduce the concentration of uranium. Interval sampling (i.e., collecting water quality samples at different depths) indicated uranium concentrations were at or below the uranium MCL at two of three different depths. Based on this data and in consultation with Nebraska Health and Human Services personnel, it was decided that a variable frequency drive pump would be installed. The installation of this pump allows operators to vary the pumping rate, thereby, reducing stress on the aquifer. Because of the distinctly lower uranium concentrations near the bottom of the well, a packer system was installed to isolate the lower 2/3 of the well screen. This project concluded that uranium concentrations decreased with depth and uranium concentrations were influenced by the introduction of oxygen into the subsurface. Further study and potential experimentation with uranium concentrations and aeration in the test well and production well is suggested.

Recently, researchers have been examining the potential for microbial communities to affect the behavior of dissolved uranium at Clarks. The metabolism of these communities may facilitate the sorption and immobilization of dissolved uranium to available metals, such as iron or sulfide. Genomic analyses of water and biofilm samples taken in April 2007 from the Clarks public water supply well and monitoring well displayed presence of metal reducing and other unknown bacteria. Further genomic analyses will provide a more specific map of the diversity of these microbes in both Clarks wells, and should improve our understanding of how the presence of these communities affects the geochemistry observed in these wells.

Project Support Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
Project Website http://snr.unl.edu/nebraskawaterquality/
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Kolok, Alan
Unit Biology, UNO
Email akolok@mail.unomaha.edu
Phone 402-554-3545
Web Page http://www.unomaha.edu/envirotox/whoiam.php
Project Information
Title Occurrence and biological effect of exogenous steroids in the Elkhorn River, Nebraska
Other(s) Daniel D. Snow, School of Natural Resources, dsnow1@unl.edu; Satomi Kohno, Department of Zoology, University of Florida, kohno@ufl.edu; Marlo K. Sellin, Department of Biology, UNO, msellin@mail.unomaha.edu; Louis J. Guillette Jr., Department of Zoology, University of Florida, ljg@ufl.edu 
Description

Recent studies of surface waters in North America, Japan and Europe have reported the presence of steroidogenic agents as contaminants. This study had three objectives:

  1. to determine if steroidogenic compounds are present in the Elkhorn River,
  2. to determine if sediments collected from the Elkhorn River can act as a source of steroidogenic compounds to aquatic organisms, and
  3. to determine if site-specific biological effects are apparent in the hepatic gene expression of fathead minnows.

Evidence was obtained using three approaches:

  1. deployment of polar organic chemical integrative samplers (POCIS),
  2. deployment of caged fathead minnows, and
  3. a laboratory experiment in which POCIS and fish were exposed to sediments from the deployment sites.

Deployment sites included: the Elkhorn River immediately downstream from a Nebraska wastewater treatment plant, two waterways (Fisher Creek and Sand Creek) likely to be impacted by runoff from cattle feeding operations, and a reference site unlikely to be impacted by waste water inputs. The POCIS extracts were analyzed for a number of natural steroids and metabolites, as well as four different synthetic steroids: ethinylestradiol, zearalonol, 17-trenbolone and melengestrol acetate. Estrogenic and androgenic metabolites, as well as progesterone and trace levels of melengestrol acetate were detected in POCIS deployed at each site. POCIS deployed in tanks containing field sediments from the four sites did not accumulate the synthetic steroids except for ethinylestradiol, which was detected in the aquarium containing sediments collected near the wastewater treatment plant. Fish deployed in Sand Creek and at the wastewater treatment plant experienced significantly elevated levels of gene expression for two genes (StAR and P450scc) relative to those deployed in Fisher Creek. Fish exposed to the sediments collected from Sand Creek had significantly higher levels of hepatic StAR and P450scc gene expression than did fish exposed to sediments from the two other field sites, as well as the no-sediment control tank.

In conclusion:

  1. detectable levels of steroidogenic compounds were detected in passive samplers deployed in the Elkhorn River,
  2. sediments do not appear to be a significant source for steroidogenic compounds, and
  3. site-specific differences were found in mRNA expression among the different treatment groups of fish; however, a functional explanation for these differences is not readily forthcoming.
Project Support Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, U.S. Geological Survey's Section 104b Program as administered by the UNL Water Center, US Environmental Protection Agency Greater Opportunities Fellowship, Dr. Daniel Villeneuve, US Environmental Protection Agency
Project Website
Report Kolok_Elkhorn.pdf
Current Status Published in Science of the Total Environment 2007 388:104-115
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Kolok, Alan
Unit Biology, UNO
Email akolok@mail.unomaha.edu
Phone 402-554-3545
Web Page http://www.unomaha.edu/envirotox/whoiam.php
Project Information
Title The Watershed as A Conceptual Framework for the Study of Environmental and Human Health
Other(s) Cheryl L. Beseler, Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health, UNMC, cbeseler@unmc.edu; Xun-Hong Chen, School of Natural Resources, xchen2@unl.edu; Patrick J. Shea, School of Natural Resources, pshea1@unl.edu 
Description

The watershed provides a physical basis for establishing linkages between aquatic contaminants, environmental health and human health. Current attempts to establish such linkages are limited by environmental and epidemiological constraints. Environmental limitations include difficulties in characterizing the temporal and spatial dynamics of agricultural runoff, in fully understanding the degradation and metabolism of these compounds in the environment, and in understanding complex mixtures. Epidemiological limitations include difficulties associated with the organization of risk factor data and uncertainty about which measurable endpoints are most appropriate for an agricultural setting. Nevertheless, the adoption of the watershed concept can alleviate some of these difficulties. From an environmental perspective, the watershed concept helps identify differences in land use and application of agrichemicals at a level of resolution relevant to human health outcomes. From an epidemiological perspective, the watershed concept places data into a construct with environmental relevance. This project uses the Elkhorn River watershed as a case study to show how the watershed can provide a conceptual framework for studies in environmental and human health.

Environmental sampling is necessary for evaluating exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals (HDCs); however, sampling is not systematic in time or space, nor does it represent the time frame necessary to adequately link it to human disease outcomes. Although data from municipal sources are available and reliable, countless private drinking water wells go untested and unmonitored. These wells may be in areas vulnerable to concentrated reservoirs of contaminants due to the soil type, infiltration rate, runoff potential, organic matter and erodibility coupled with land use in the region and the chemical properties of the contaminants introduced into the environment. The lack of a defined boundary and introduction of exposure heterogeneity is one of the primary reasons why associations to health outcomes cannot be shown in environmental epidemiological studies.

The use of the watershed provides a natural boundary and the potential within this boundary to obtain denominator data. Based on the characteristics of the watershed combined with sampling data, shared exposures can be identified and intermediate hypotheses tested using sentinel markers of exposure in fish and humans. Lastly, comparable groups identified in other watersheds with similar characteristics but different surrounding land uses can be used to replicate findings.

Project Support Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center
Project Website
Report Kolok_Watershed.pdf
Current Status Published in Environmental Health Insights 2009 3:1-10
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Riens, John
Unit Wisconsin Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Email John_Riens@fws.gov
Phone 541-885-2503
Web Page http://www.fws.gov/
Project Information
Title Macroinvertebrate Response to Buffer Zone Quality in the Rainwater Basin Wetlands of Nebraska
Other(s) W. Wyatt Hoback, Biology UNK, hobackww@unk.edu; Matt Schwarz, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 
Description

The Rainwater Basin is one of the most endangered wetland ecosystems in North America. This ecosystem is critical to many species including migratory waterfowl. Land use and runnoff from agriculture and cattle confinement operations are likely to be reducing the basin's health and diversity, however little information exists concerning macroinvertebrates. Twenty-two locations were assessed for water quality parameters, vegetation composition, and macroinvertebrates identified to genus. Samples were collected biweekly starting in April through July for three years. Macroinvertebrate diversity was impacted in areas with little buffer although the effects were not pronounced. Institution of a more effective vegetative buffers strip may reverse this trend to improve ecosystem quality and provide for invertebrate resources for migratory birds.

Click here to see a poster about this research

Project Support n/a
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Shea, Patrick
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email pshea1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1533
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=109
Project Information
Title Model to Identify Watershed Vulnerability and High Impact Programs
Other(s) Maribeth Milner, Agronomy and Horticulture, mmilner1@unl.edu; Gary D. Lynne, Agricultural Economics, glynne1@unl.edu; Mark E. Burbach, Conservation and Survey Division, mburbach1@unl.edu; Mark Bernards, Agronomy and Horticulture, mbernards2@unl.edu. 
Description

To protect water quality we need to better forecast environmental risks and guide conservation management decisions. Watershed vulnerability is determined by physical setting (soil, topography, and climate) and land management practices. If the most vulnerable areas can be determined, fields within those areas can be targeted for conservation management and mitigation of contamination. A model using the Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) Database is being developed to identify vulnerable areas and determine the potential impact of management practices on agrichemical runoff and leaching within impaired watersheds in Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa. Saunders County, NE is the primary site for development of the model, which will be applied in the Blue River watershed (Jefferson and Gage Counties in NE and Washington and Marshall Counties in KS).

To implement effective conservation practices it is necessary to understand what motivates the behaviors of producers and land managers. A survey tool will be used to determine what motivates the behaviors of producers and land managers in choosing practices and technologies in vulnerable areas. As part of this survey tool, an upstream individual's capacity and willingness to empathize with downstream water users about the quality and quantity of the water in Tuttle Creek Lake will be measured (see Cornhusker Economics article.) A statistical model will predict responsiveness to change and decision typologies will be mapped. A behavioral assessment model will be applied to selected areas upstream of Tuttle Creek, KS to predict the probability that producers and land managers will adopt the technologies and practices associated with total maximum daily load (TMDL) recommendations, as well as the extent of adoption. The information gained in this project can be used to design policy, incentive structures, and educational programs leading to the adoption of conservation management practices that improve and protect water quality.

Project Support USDA-CSREES National Integrated Water Quality Program.
Project Website http://www.agecon.unl.edu/Cornhuskereconomics/2008/8-20-08.pdf
Report Empathy Conditioned Conservation 1 14 09.pdf
Current Status Continuous
Topic Water Quality
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Shelton, David
Unit Biological Systems Engineering and Extension Agricultural Engineer
Email dshelton2@unl.edu
Phone 402-584-3849
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/dshelton2
Project Information
Title Conservation Buffers to Enhance Water Quality
Description

Conservation buffers are strips or small areas of permanent vegetation that protect and enhance water quality in three ways: 1) sediment and other particulate-bound pollutants are trapped within the buffer; 2) runoff water, often containing soluble nutrients and pesticides, is reduced through increased infiltration in the buffer; and 3) agricultural practices are physically kept away from sensitive areas. When placed along the edges of rivers, streams, and other water bodies, these vegetated areas, or riparian buffers, provide a "buffer" between the water body and adjacent land - typically crop land.

Although farmers and landowners generally strive to be stewards of the land, installation of a buffer requires that land be removed from crop production. In the case of a riparian buffer, the land adjacent to the water body is often some of the most productive land, making producers even more reluctant to take this land out of production. Also, periodic maintenance to help assure buffer performance is an expense.

To help address these and other concerns, several buffer-related projects are being conducted at the University of Nebraska Northeast Research and Extension Center and Haskell Agricultural Laboratory (HAL). One of these is a major demonstration/research buffer at HAL. The overall objective of the HAL buffer site is to maintain a large-scale demonstration and research living laboratory for natural resource professionals, producers, landowners, students, and the general public featuring a spectrum of conventional and non-conventional plant materials and designs in a natural and working agricultural environment. This buffer consists of approximately 23 acres and is 75 feet wide along each side of the entire length (approximately one mile) of the stream channel through the center of the HAL site.

The HAL buffer consists of 7 separate "areas", each having a primary focus or emphasis, as well as a number of secondary purposes aimed at meeting project objectives. Briefly, these areas are:

  • Woody decorative florals, fruits, and hazelnuts as alternative plant materials, to evaluate the suitability and income-producing potential of specialty woody plant materials (willows, dogwoods, and others) in a conservation buffer.
  • Grasses, wildflowers, and other forbs, to demonstrate and evaluate stands of different plant materials that are currently used or that may be suitable for use in conservation buffers.
  • Grass species mixtures, to demonstrate and evaluate typically recommended grass mixtures.
  • Riparian forested buffer, to demonstrate forested buffer areas designed and planted according to both current and alternative standards and specifications.
  • Alternative methods of tree and shrub establishment, to demonstrate alternative planting and establishment techniques, particularly direct seeding.
  • Weed management, to investigate weed control methods initiated the year prior to and the year of buffer establishment, and in subsequent years.
  • Alternative buffer design, to investigate and demonstrate alternative planting techniques and/or plant materials that may help maintain and/or re-establish uniform flow conditions within a buffer, thus reducing maintenance required.
Project Support University of Nebraska Agricultural Research Division
Project Website
Report
Current Status Continuous
Topic Watershed Project
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Shea, Patrick J.
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email pshea1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-1533
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=109
Project Information
Title Application of Landscape Vulnerability Models to Assess Off-Site Pesticide Movement in a Nebraska-Kansas Watershed
Other(s) Maribeth Milner, Agronomy and Horticulture, mmilner1@unl.edu; Mark Bernards, Agronomy and Horticulture, mbernards2@unl.edu; Phil Barnes, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Kansas State University, lbarnes@ksu.edu 
Description

Some landscape positions are more likely than others to contribute to ground and surface water contamination from agricultural inputs and management practices. By identifying these areas at a regional scale, resources can be optimally targeted to address potential problems at the field scale. We developed SSURGO (Soil Survey Geographic)-based models to assess vulnerability to pesticide contamination of ground or surface waters across the landscape. Upon application of the models to a four-county (NE-KS) study area (Blue River Basin), between-county discontinuities emerged. Each county soil map is based on the particular expression of soil-forming factors as interpreted by local mapping teams, but these teams may or may not have input on the mapping of adjacent counties. Soil map units are typically blended across county boundaries, but these changes will not correct fundamental differences in the models used to create soil maps. The discontinuities in our study area may be due to an end moraine that cuts northwest to southeast (predominantly through the western counties), differences in mapping dates (1975-2003), and variations in data interpretation by agencies in Kansas and Nebraska. By incorporating slope and slope length data generated from relatively high resolution 10 m DEMs (digital elevation models), we increased sensitivity to topography at the SSURGO polygon level. Model output between the SSURGO-based and the DEM-based topographic data differed substantially for the eastern glaciated counties, but were relatively similar for the western counties. Assuming that the DEM is correct, this suggests a lack of consistency in defining the SSURGO representative slope and (or) slope lengths among counties. Although discontinuities occur between counties, model output can be used to identify the most vulnerable areas within each county. Model utility is demonstrated by comparing model output with surface water quality measurements in the watershed.

Maps resulting from our models show relative landscape vulnerability to pesticide leaching and runoff. This information can be used to prioritize and target areas within a watershed for conservation management practices and other actions that will reduce contamination of water resources and improve water quality. We applied the models to a four-county NE-KS study area (Big Blue Basin) and propose solutions to discontinuities between counties resulting from variations in data intepretation due to differences in mapping teams and dates. We use surface water quality measurements to show the utility of our models.

Project Support USDA-CSREES National Integrated Water Quality Program.
Project Website http://www.usawaterquality.org/conferences/2009/PDF/Wshed-poster/Shea09.pdf
Report
Current Status Continuing
Topic Watershed Project
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Shelton, David
Unit Biological Systems Engineering and Extension Agricultural Engineer
Email dshelton2@unl.edu
Phone 402-584-3849
Web Page http://bse.unl.edu/dshelton2
Project Information
Title Shell Creek Watershed Improvement Project
Other(s) Rod Wilke, Northeast REC, rwilke2@unl.edu 
Description

Through a several-entity partnership best management practices (BMPs) are being adopted or installed in the Shell Creek Watershed, helping to protect the quality of both surface and ground water. Shell Creek drains approximately 300,000 acres in parts of Boone, Colfax, Madison, and Platte counties, and has a history of flooding that has frequently caused damage along its length. Shell Creek has been on the Nebraska's list of impaired waters for fecal coliform bacteria and other impairments. Soil erosion is a major problem throughout the watershed.

Using a variety of delivery methods, cooperative educational programming led by Extension in the Shell Creek Watershed primarily focuses on: the water quality benefits of (BMPs, management needed to ensure BMP success, and the availability of enhanced and/or special cost-share funding for BMP adoption or installation within targeted areas of the watershed. Key accomplishments since the project was initiated in September 2004 include:

  • Twenty-nine illegal wells were properly decommissioned thus protecting water quality and human health and safety. One of these was a 36-inch diameter, 50-foot deep dug well that the landowner discovered when the front wheel of his tractor dropped into it. He did not know that this well was there, despite having grown up on that farm.
  • Thirty-one sub-standard or failing septic systems were upgraded to current standards. Before upgrading, septic tank effluent was surfacing in at least two of these systems, while another system had no drainfield and the effluent was piped directly to Shell Creek. Over two million gallons of domestic wastewater annually is now being properly treated because of these upgrades, substantially reducing the risks to public health and the environment.
  • Forty-eight producers contracted for the implementation of no-till planting on nearly 6,600 acres of cropland for a period of at least five years. This conversion will result in an estimated soil erosion reduction of over 328,500 tons annually.
  • Fifty-two contracts for buffers and other structural practices were installed on a total of 215 acres of cropland. The conversion of this land to permanent vegetative cover will reduce soil erosion on the order of 3,200 tons per year and provide excellent wildlife habitat. These practices and additional benefits include:
  • five stream-side filter strips installed by three individuals on 38.1 acres that will filter the runoff from approximately 1,200 upslope acres;
  • a 6.0 acre riparian forest buffer that will filter the runoff from approximately 200 upslope acres and may provide future income from the sale of some of the trees that were planted;
  • thirteen grassed waterways, totaling 36.3 acres, installed by six individuals, will filter and direct the runoff from approximately 400 acres of upslope cropland;
  • a nearly 5-acre field windbreak that may contribute to increased yields by reducing wind velocity on the adjacent crop;
  • three buffers that provide 31.9 acres of habitat especially suited for northern bobwhite quail;
  • and contour buffers totaling 17.2 acres on two farms that will help reduce soil erosion by slowing the flow of runoff water and trapping sediment carried by the runoff.

In aggregate, over $1 million in incentive, land rental, cost-sharing, and other payments is being infused into the Shell Creek Watershed as a direct result of this programming. These payments include:

  • $289,800 for the implementation of no-till planting systems and associated management practices.
  • $198,500 for the installation of various types of conservation buffers.
  • $40,700 to upgrade failing septic systems to meet current standards.
  • $10,050 to decommission out-of-service water wells.

This educational effort and special cost-share funding is a partnership among USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service; UNL Extension; PrairieLand Resource, Conservation and Development Council; Shell Creek Watershed Improvement Group; Natural Resources Conservation Service; Pheasants Forever; and the Lower Platte North Natural Resources District.

Project Support Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Section 319 Program (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), Nebraska Environmental Trust.
Project Website http://www.newman.esu8.org/vnews/display.v/SEC/Activities%3E%3EWatershed%20Project
Report Shelton_Buffers.pdf
Current Status Completed
Topic Watershed Project
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Wortmann, Charles (advisor)
Unit Agronomy and Horticulture
Email cwortmann2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-2909
Web Page http://agronomy.unl.edu/wortmann
Project Information
Title Reducing phosphorus and sediment loss in runoff from agricultural land, including the effects of management practices on nutrients and sediment in runoff determined with SWAT for Wahoo Creek Watershed
Other(s) Al-wadaey, Ahmed, alwadaey@gmail.com; supervisory committee members - Thomas Franti, Biological Systems Engineering, tfranti@unl.edu; Charles Shapiro, Northeast Research and Extension Center, cshapiro1@unl.edu; Dean Eisenhauer, Biological Systems Engineering, deisenhauer1@unl.edu 
Description

Nutrients and sediment loss from watersheds contributes to water quality pollution. A study was conducted to determine the impact of agriculture practices on nutrients and suspended sediment loss from a large watershed (Wahoo Creek) with an area of 93000 ha, and a small watershed (Duck Creek) with an area of 5321 ha.. Runoff and loading of sediment and nutrients were assessed using SWAT (Soil and Water Assessment Tool) simulation. Land use in the Wahoo Creek Watershed is 34% corn, 32% soybean, 24% pasture. The rest of the area is in alfalfa, trees, other crops, and low urban density. Yutan soil is 50% of the total soil area while Tomec and Pohocco soil is 9.4 and 8.5% respectively. In the Duck Creek Watershed, land use is 34% soybean, 53% corn and 25% pasture and the major soil series are Yutan (55%), Pohocco (17%), and Nodaway (14%). Eight years (1996-2003) of weather data, SSURGO soil data, and land use data were used for model simulation. SWAT divided the Wahoo Creek Watershed into 31 sub-basins. Duck Creek is a small watershed that was used to evaluate the existing management practices such as dams, terraces, grass and residue covers through modeling.

The result of the analysis indicated that terraces were the most effective conservation practices (about 60%) at reducing sediment yield and nutrients. Dams did not show a high influence on the outputs due to the low ratio basin area served by dams to the total drainage area of Duck Creek. Filter grass was also effective although it was implemented only in five sub-basins. Implementing agriculture practices such as terraces, ponds, dams decreased stream flow, nutrients and sediment loss at the watershed outlet by about 71% compared with non-agriculture practice scenarios.

Ahmed Al-wadaey's Doctoral Dissertation on Reducing Phosphorus and Sediment Loss in Runoff

Project Support
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed - dissertation available - UNL Library electronic dissertation (Call # TD428.A37 )
Topic Wetlands
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Allen, Craig
Unit Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Email callen3@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-0229
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=647
Project Information
Title Missouri River Mitigation: Implementation of Amphibian Monitoring and Adaptive Management for Wetland Restoration Evaluation
Other(s) Martin Simon, Benedictine College; Michelle Hellman, School of Natural Resources, michelle.hellman@huskers.unl.edu; Ashley Vanderham, School of Natural Resources, avanderham@huskers.unl.edu 
Description

Data are being collected to determine what constitutes a successful wetland restoration, given the desired goals of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Herpetofauna primarily amphibians are being used as indicators of wetland success. This will be accomplished by quantifying the occurrence and recruitment of amphibians at existing mitigation sites and formulating models of quality wetland restorations. These models will be used by managers in future restorations and for adaptive management approaches to the design of new wetland restorations. The study area is the Missouri River corridor of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

This project is a multi-institutional monitoring program that focuses on tightly linking monitoring with hypothesis testing in an adaptive framework. The design consists of frog call surveys to determine occupancy rates for a large number of wetlands on numerous restoration properties, coupled with intensive sampling of frogs, turtles and salamanders to assess abundance and recruitment on eight restored wetland complexes in four states. The focus areas for the Nebraska Coop Unit are three Missouri River wetland complexes located from Falls City to Omaha, Nebraska. Project collaborators at Benedictine College in Kansas are focusing on the Benedictine Wetlands in Kansas.

Click here to read a fact sheet on this project

Project Support United States Geological Survey, United States Army Corps of Engineers
Project Website http://snr.unl.edu/necoopunit/research.main.html#missouririvermitigation
Report
Current Status Underway
Topic Wetlands
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Tang, Zhenghong
Unit Architecture
Email ztang2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-9281
Web Page http://architecture.unl.edu/people/bios/tang_zhenghong.shtml
Project Information
Title Developing LiDAR-Derived Wetland Maps To Assess Conservation Design Practices For Playa Wetlands In Rainwater Basin
Other(s) Ed Harvey, School of Natural Resources, feharvey1@unl.edu; Xu Li, Department of Civil Engineering 
Description The overall goal of this project is to provide wetland managers with topographically-correct 3-D wetland maps to prioritize wetland conservation efforts and assess wetland conservation design practices. This project addresses three specific tasks for the playa wetlands: 1) Establish accurate, topographically-correct, 3-D wetland maps to relate weather conditions and wetland functions; 2) Develop a measurable Restorable Wetland Index to prioritize playa wetland and drainages conservation; 3) Assess wetland conservation design practices for watershed-based wetland conservation. This research will use high-resolution Light Detections And Ranging (LiDAR) data to create next-generation wetland maps for playa wetlands. The research provides the missing link in conservation design as these data will provide accurate elevation measures to delineate watershed extent and determine the impact of individual hydrologic modifications. This project will be one of the first to integrate LiDAR data and a hydrologic modifications datasets to find the relations of current weather conditions and wetland functions. This project provides reliable, accurate wetland spatial parameters to prioritize playa wetland conservation and assess the effectiveness of existing wetland conservation design practices. The wetland conservation design tools and protocols will be examined in two pilot counties in Nebraska. The intellectual merit of the research is based on advancing knowledge linkage of wetland mapping technologies and wetland function modifications, and showing how to adapt wetland conservation designs. The outputs from this project provide practical protocols for state/regional/local wetland managers and thus ensure "no net loss" in quality and quantity of wetlands.
Project Support US EPA
Project Website
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Anderson, Tara
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email taraleeanderson@huskers.unl.edu
Phone 402-432-5233
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/undergrad/anderson-tara.asp
Project Information
Title Population Dynamics of Shovelnose Sturgeon in the Lower Platte River
Other(s) Mark A. Pegg, School of Natural Resources, mpegg2@unl.edu; Martin Hamel, School of Natural Resources, mhamel2@unl.edu; Jeremy Hammen, School of Natural Resources, hammenj@huskers.unl.edu 
Description

Reduction in range and abundance of shovelnose sturgeon Scaphirhynchus platorynchus over the past century has been primarily attributed to critical habitat loss, poor water quality, and overharvest. These declines have led to concerns about populations of this once ubiquitous sturgeon species in large rivers throughout their Mississippi River Basin-wide range. However, detailed analyses of shovelnose sturgeon populations do not exist in several potentially important portions of their range, such as the Platte River, Nebraska. Shovelnose sturgeon, for example have been documented in the Lower Platte River, Nebraska (i.e., Columbus, NE to Plattsmouth, NE), but little is known about their population dynamics. Additionally, indications that seasonal fishing pressure in the Lower Platte River may affect local abundances, growth and mortality rates, and age at maturity of shovelnose sturgeon create a need for obtaining more specific population information. Researchers have initiated a five year study of the shovelnose sturgeon population in the Lower Platte River to characterize the abundance, distribution, demography, population dynamics, and genetics of shovelnose sturgeon. For preliminary data from the first year of sampling, view the presentation via the website like below.

Click here to read Tara Anderson's Master's Thesis on Shovelnose Sturgeon Population Dynamics

Project Support Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Project Website http://watercenter.unl.edu/PRS/PRS2009/PPTs/Anderson%20Tara.pdf
Report
Current Status Completed
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Harvey, F. Edwin
Unit School of Natural Resources
Email feharvey1@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-8237
Web Page http://eas.unl.edu/people/faculty_page.php?lastname=Harvey&firstname=Ed&type=ADJ
Project Information
Title Salt Creek Tiger Beetle Research Project
Description

This extensive research project intends to determine the reproductive habitat parameters and develop rearing procedures for the federally endangered Salt Creek Tiger Beetle (SCTB). The SCTB is endemic to the saline wetlands of Lancaster County, Nebraska and was first described in the early 1900s. Based on museum records, it was apparently abundant in its type locality of the Capital Beach area of Lincoln, Nebraska. However, by the late 1980s, surveys indicated a dramatic decline in beetle populations, following corresponding losses in saline habitats upon which the beetle depends. Currently, the majority of beetles are limited to a single area along the banks of Little Salt Creek in Lancaster County. This means that in order to successfully recover the SCTB, it will be necessary to reestablish populations at restored historic sites and at new sites. This will require data on the appropriate management of the sites to provide reproductive habitat.

Although the basic life history and habitat requirements of the SCTB is known, much detailed biological information on the SCTB biology is lacking, and this information is essential for developing appropriate conservation and recovery plans. A well-defined group of beetle species occur exclusively in saline wetlands; however, physiological basis for these habitat preferences are not known. Considerable speculation surrounds the association of soil salinity with SCTB oviposition (laying eggs).

Harvey and his students are conducting research to characterize the hydrogeology and hydrochemistry of the alluvial and bedrock aquifers beneath eastern Nebraska's saline wetlands. They are also attempting to quantify the mixing relationship between fresh surface and shallow groundwater, and the deeper saline groundwater that moves to the surface under artesian pressure Their research is aimed ultimately at assessing the impact of both spatial and temporal hydrological changes across the wetland on the SCTB.

Dr. Harvey's portion of the larger research project will contribute to the conservation of the SCTB by identifying suitable release sites and developing habitat management guidelines for existing and restored habitat sites. The project will also use existing information to further refine and develop practices and protocols in order to successfully and efficiently captive-rear the SCTB.

Three Master's theses have been completed and a third is in progress:

  • Coke, Gordon R., (2008) Groundwater Dynamics Within the Saline Wetland Alluvium of the Little Salt Creek Valley, Lancaster County, Nebraska, MS Thesis, UNL School of Natural Resources. 79 p.
  • Gilbert, James, (2008) Groundwater Mixing Dynamics in the Saline Wetlands of the Little Salt Creek Watershed, Lancaster County, Nebraska, MS Thesis, UNL School of Natural Resources, 148 p.
  • Kelly, Bridget, (2011), Using Electrical Resistivity Imaging (ERI) to Map Saline Groundwater and Subaqueous Spring Discharge: An Example From the Saline Wetlands of Eastern Nebraska, MS Thesis, UNL Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, 150 p.
Project Support Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Project Website http://snr.unl.edu/harvey/projecttiger.htm
Report
Current Status Continuing
Pic 1 Project Image
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Pegg, Mark (advisor)
Unit Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Email mpegg2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-6824
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=739
Project Information
Title Catfish Population Dynamics in the Platte River, Nebraska
Other(s) Tony J. Barada, abarada2@unl.edu 
Description

Catfish angling is popular throughout the United States and catfish are the most sought after fish species in the Platte River. However, catfish management in the Platte River is minimal as little is known about current populations. The objective of this study was to determine the current status of channel catfish and flathead catfish populations in the central and lower Platte River. Specifically, the study evaluated population characteristics including relative abundance, size structure, condition, age, growth and mortality.

Channel catfish are much more abundant than flathead catfish in the Platte River. The current Platte River channel catfish population appears to be average, comparable to many Nebraska and Midwestern rivers. Population characteristics displayed considerable variation along the Platte River and some longitudinal patterns were evident. Channel catfish in the central Platte River had lower relative abundances, higher condition, greater size structure, faster growth and lower mortality compared to lower Platte River channel catfish. Key factors likely influencing differences in channel catfish population characteristics are prey availability, flow modifications, habitat characteristics, tributary inflows and angler exploitation. Water manipulations from the Loup River Power Canal were also identified as a possible negative influence on lower Platte River channel catfish populations because hydropeaking is likely creating a stressful environment. However, channel catfish in the central Platte River appear to have benefited from recent high flows that likely increased productivity and food availability in the central Platte River.

Tony Barada's Master's Thesis on Catfish Population Dynamics in the Platte River

Project Support Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration
Project Website
Report
Current Status Graduate thesis project completed - thesis available at UNL CY Thompson Library (Call # LD3656 2009 .B373)
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Pope, Kevin
Unit Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Email kpope2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7028
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=759
Project Information
Title Population Assessments of Temperate Basses in Nebraska Reservoirs
Other(s) Christopher Chizinski, School of Natural Resources, cchizinski2@unl.edu 
Description

Branched Oak and Pawnee reservoirs are two waterbodies in eastern Nebraska that provided important local fisheries for nearly half of Nebraska’s population. Littoral species of fish, such as black crappie, bluegill and largemouth bass, dominated the angler catch early in the life of these reservoirs. However, sedimentation and erosion have substantially altered the habitat of these reservoirs, which resulted in shift from clear-water littoral habitat to turbid-water limnetic habitat. These habitat changes caused a shift in the sportfish community from one dominated by shallow-water species such as black crappie, bluegill and largemouth bass, to one dominated by open-water species such as walleye and white bass. In addition to habitat changes, introductions of the white perch into these reservoirs have caused additional changes in the fish communities and their associated dynamics. Since their introduction, white perch numbers have increased precipitously over the last 15 years resulting in populations of stunted white perch. Elimination of the stunted status for these white perch populations through increased stocking of predators has been unsuccessful to date.

This study will provide an in depth analysis of the white perch populations in these two Nebraska reservoirs. Specifically, we will estimate the biomass of each white perch population and quantify the spatiotemporal (daily and seasonally) distribution of white perch in both reservoirs.

Project Support Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Project Website http://snr.unl.edu/necoopunit/research.main.html#temperatebasses
Report
Current Status Underway
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Pope, Kevin (advisor)
Unit Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Email kpope2@unl.edu
Phone 402-472-7028
Web Page http://snr.unl.edu/aboutus/who/people/faculty-member.asp?pid=759
Project Information
Title Impact of White Perch on Walleye and Predators of White Perch at Branched Oak and Pawnee Reservoirs
Other(s) Nathan Gosch, Graduate Research Assistant 
Description

Habitat alterations and accidental introduction of white perch into Branched Oak Lake have shifted the fish community from one dominated by littoral (near-shore) species (e.g., largemouth bass and bluegill) to one dominated by pelagic (open-water) species (e.g., white perch and gizzard shad). Along with the change in the fish community, angler trips to Branched Oak Reservoir have declined by 85% over the last two decades. Further, the white perch population has become stunted, meaning there is a high density of slow growing individuals that mature at a small size. Like Branched Oak Lake, Pawnee Lake historically supported an active and diverse fishery, and has experienced similar habitat alterations and accidental introduction of white perch; however, unlike Branched Oak Lake, stunting has not yet occurred for the white perch population in Pawnee Lake.

Studies at both lakes enable researchers to examine white perch interactions with other fishes in two similar Nebraska reservoirs having different white perch population stages (i.e., stunted and non-stunted). Food habits and diet overlap among white perch, crappie, walleye, white bass, and channel catfish are being evaluated. To study diet, fish stomachs are pumped and the contents analyzed to understand which fish species prey on white perch. All stomach content samples are analyzed and data synthesized. Stable isotope analyses of stomach contents have been conducted and the results confirmed.

By documenting the potential competition bottlenecks that exist between white perch and other fish species of importance, management program may be developed to eliminate stunted status for the white perch population in Branched Oak Lake and to prevent stunting of the white perch population in Pawnee Lake.

Project Support U.S. Geological Survey, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
Project Website http://www.nlc.state.ne.us/epubs/U1500/B011-2008.pdf
Report
Current Status Completed - report available
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Stansbury, John
Unit Civil Engineering, UNO
Email jstansbury2@unl.edu
Phone 402-554-3896
Web Page http://www.civil.unl.edu/faculty/John-Stansbury
Project Information
Title Multi-Criteria Assessment of Habitat Restoration for the Missouri River Project
Other(s) Istvan Bogardi (retired), ibogardi1@unl.edu 
Description

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in cooperation with other agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently planning, designing, and constructing projects designed to restore habitat in and along the Missouri River. The primary focus of the projects is restoration of habitat for three endangered or threatened species: pallid sturgeon, least tern, and piping plover. Management and restoration of the Missouri River is a complex endeavor that affects many people with many and often conflicting priorities. In addition, restoration of habitat is a complex process with many and often conflicting objectives. For example, habitat restoration activities for one species may interfere with habitat needs for another species. Finally, habitat restoration success is difficult to measure, in part because there is often a significant lag time between the restoration activity and the response by the target species. Therefore, a method is being developed, using multi-criteria assessment tools, to help the USACE and cooperators assess the status and the progress of the habitat restoration program.

The goal of this project is to develop a multi-criteria assessment tool that can be used to assess the overall status and progress of the habitat restoration efforts on the Missouri River. To achieve this goal, the first step will be to determine the requirements for habitat (e.g., water depths, velocities, bottom substrates, etc) for the endangered species. Then measurement criteria (i.e., what data will need to be collected to assess the availability of the required habitat) will be established. Finally, a multi-criteria assessment tool will be developed and used to integrate the conditions of the various measurement criteria (depths, velocities, etc.) to gain an understanding of the overall quality and quantity of habitat at different points in time.

Project Support U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Project Website
Report
Current Status Continuing
Topic Wildlife
Project's Primary Contact Information
Name Young, Chelsey
Unit Biology, UNK
Email youngca2@unk.edu
Phone 507-469-8284
Web Page
Project Information
Title A range-wide assessment of plains topminnow (Fundulus sciadicus) distribution and potential threats
Other(s) W. Wyatt Hoback, Biology UNK, hobackww@unk.edu; Keith Koupal, Biology UNK; Justin Haas 
Description The plains topminnow, Fundulus sciadicus, was once distributed from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains, north to South Dakota and as far south as Oklahoma. Two centers of distribution are recognized. One is centered in Nebraska and the second is centered in Missouri. The geographic range of plains topminnow has decreased in the past decades. Plains topminnow are now considered a species of special concern in the state of Nebraska and listed as a Tier 1 species in the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project. Elimination of plains topminnow populations has been associated with introduction of invasive species, as well as loss of backwater habitats due to drought and lowered water tables. The objective of this project is to provide an updated assessment of plains topminnow distribution and population status as compared to all available historical records. Between 2004 and the present, sampling of plains topminnow revealed that in Nebraska 77% of historic Nebraska sites no longer contain plains topminnow populations. The sampling of remaining historic sites in Nebraska and neighboring states will continue in the 2009 sampling season.
Project Support n/a
Project Website
Report topminnow_range_reduction.pdf
Current Status Completed
Location

Congressional District 1

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