Peer review of select LCCMR RFPS to be held

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While it may seem that once funding recommendations are made by the LCCMR to the legislature, there are still more hurdles to overcome.
The LCCMR requires that scientific research proposals are subject to peer review under Minnesota Statute 116P.08. Academians are familiar with this type of review – a process in which those familiar with a specific topic weigh in on its merits and detriments. Currently, a number of proposals have been reviewed, but seven more will be reviewed in front of the LCCMR committee on Wednesday, March 28. This is not an official LCCMR meeting, but it is open to the public.
Here is a brief overview of the research projects that will be discussed:

Proposal: Innovative Springshed Mapping for Trout Stream Management
Requested budget: $270,000; other funding sources of $55,000 planned ($50,000 from DNR Water; $5,000 from South Brach Root 319 Project for the Governor’s Root River Initiative).
Length of project: Initial phase is two years; complete project can not be completed within two years as there are too many trout streams to analyze.
Project manager: E. Calvin Alexander, Jr. U of M, Department of Geology and Geophysics
Purpose: A partnered project between the U of M, DNR, county, city, watershed, sporting, environmental and private landowners to assess the impact of land and water development on springs serving as coldwater sources for trout streams. Area of focus is southeast Minnesota and the metro area. Aims to accelerate the process of springshed mapping and evaluations. Goal is to deliver quicker, more accurate information to ensure better management decisions in regard to water withdrawal of springsheds that can be applied statewide (current information is not applicable statewide). New techniques will be implemented in this study to determine how groundwater is recharged in springsheds.

Proposal: Demonstrating Benefits of Conservation Grasslands on Water Quality
Requested budget: $374,000
Length of project: July 2007-June 2010
Project manager: James Almendinger, Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Croix Watershed Research Station, U of M professor, Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology and Geology and Geophysics
Purpose: To show long-term benefits of conservation grasslands in reduction of sediment and nutrient loads. Focuses on analysis of 10 lakes (initial proposal was five lakes) in small watersheds with various grassland acreages. Study includes lands acquired or enrolled in CRP, CREP, RIM and WMA. Involves a natural monitoring proposal that is less cost-prohibitive and time consuming than other extensive scientific monitoring. Previous LCCMR funding allowed for initial stages of study. Seeks to answer questions regarding rates of natural and phosphorus accumulations and whether establishment of conservations grasslands assisted in mitigating phosphorous and sediment loading in lakes. Also seeks to identify how much acreage of grassland is needed to create measurable water quality improvements and where in watersheds grasslands should be placed.

Project: Neutralization of Reed Canary Grass Root Exudates
Budget: $115,000
Length of project: Two years
Project manager: Bradley Cook, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Purpose: Reed Canary Grass is an invasive species that is aggressively invading wetlands and damages native plant life and reproduction. Current management of this plant has proven to be ineffective and it is believed that to deter invasion a plant-soil study is necessary to understand its invasive nature. Overall objective is to facilitate desirable soil conditions for the establishment of diverse native plants on restored and/or created wetlands. current management of canary grass is ineffective. to deter invansion need to do palnt-soil study that may be contributing to its invasiveness.

Project: Pharmaceutical and Microbiological Pollution
Budget: $302,000; other funds $266,000; partner with Metropolitan Council Environmental Services, Western Lake Superior Sanitary District and anonymous farmers (have previously teamed with these groups).
Length of project: Two years
Project manager: Timothy LaPara U of M Department of Civil Engineering
Purpose: To develop technologies that will eliminate antibiotic resistant bacteria, hormones and other pharmaceutical compounds in Minnesota’s surface waters. These pharmaceuticals, bacteria and hormones arrive in the state’s waters via runoff, manure and wastewater discharge. There has not been significant research done as to how to control this presence in the state’s water. Study is important because of the adverse affects this has on humans and the environment. Project seeks to develop practical, low-cost technologies to manage this problem. One aspect of research involves using solar energy, which would generate heat, to reduce bacteria – a bonus is that solar heat could possibly also be transformed for other uses and this is low-tech and low-cost method versus other thermophilic treatments (the former is also geared toward smaller-scale facilities and the latter larger-scale). A pilot-scale solar system will be used at Blue Lake Wastewater plant in Shakopee (there will also be a laboratory solar study) and a thermophilic system is currently in use at the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District. Scientists expect both methods to yield positive results.

Project: Water Resource Sustainability
Budget: $292,000
Length of project: Two years
Project manager: John Nieber, U of M Sponsored Projects Administration
Purpose: Current management of water systems in the state is not sustainable and will continue to contribute to degradation of water sources and quality. Sustainability of the Minnesota’s water is integral to the state’s economic, social and ecological health. Project will develop sustainability atlases (current geological atlases do not provide enough information about water resource sustainability). Seeks to attain broad applicability with long-term impact having statewide/regional significance. Areas of study will encompass: metro area, St. Cloud, Karst region of southeast Minnesota, Olmsted, Lac Qui Parle and Pope Counties.

Project: Threat of Emerging Contaminants to Upper Mississippi Walleye
Budget $97,000
Length of project: Two years
Project manager: Heiko Schoenfuss St. Cloud State
Purpose: Seeks to assess whether genetic diversity of walleye in Upper Mississippi is negatively impacted by emerging contaminant pollution “hotspots.” Hotspots where previously identified feminized male fish are: Lake Peppin and downstream areas of Grand Rapids, St. Cloud and St. Paul. Feminized fish, or hermaphrodite fish, hampers the reproductive ability in male fish and poses long-term risk to overall health of fish. This is the first time a field and laboratory study will be combined to link the impact of contaminants on fish. A longitudinal study of the Mississippi River at 43 sites, ranging from Lake Itasca to the Iowa border, was recently completed.

Project: Improved River Quality Monitoring Using Airborne Remote Sensing
Budget: $159,00
Length of project: Two years
Project manager: Fei Yuan, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Purpose: To use innovate methodologies, airborne dynamic hyperspectral remote sensing, to improve riverine and riparian environmental monitoring. Seeks to identify “signatures” of pollutants in water. Dynamic (over time and space) aspect of study is new approach as is an annual and inter-annual study of changes of river water quality. Area of study is Blue Earth River, one of the most polluted in the state and a major tributary of the Minnesota River. This methodology has not received previous funding and if it proves successful, it can be applied to all Minnesota watersheds. Implements Civil Air Patrol ARCHER system – only 16 exist and one of them is in Minnesota.

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