Seed funds support land use, water quality and wetlands research

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2016

The Illinois Water Resources Center today announced the award of $40,000 in seed money for 2016-17. Funding will go to four projects and help support more than 15 graduate and undergraduate researchers at universities across the state.

“The results of these diverse and innovative projects will help break down key barriers to understanding and protecting Illinois’ water resources and aquatic habitats,” said Brian Miller, IWRC director. “We are very pleased to continue our support of research with real significance for the state and the region.”

Quinn Lewis and Bruce Rhoads from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will use IWRC funds to conduct one of the first comprehensive evaluations of the use of unmanned aircraft systems to determine how different river flow conditions impact water quality. Part of a longstanding collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, the study will also enhance understanding of the hydrodynamics of river confluences.

Using ground surveys and radar imagery, ecologist Michael Eichholz, PhD student John O’Connell and a team of field and lab technicians working out of Southern Illinois University Carbondale will develop models to predict where and when Illinois wetlands are saturated with water. The results will help improve wetland protection and restoration efforts.

New models developed by geologists at Illinois State University will shed light on how chloride concentrations from road salt runoff vary throughout the year and across locations. Focused on the Little Kickapoo Creek watershed and led by Eric Peterson, Lucas Chabela and Jessica Ludwikowski, the project will serve as a pilot for the use of similar models in the Chicago metropolitan area.

And University of Illinois at Chicago’s Max Berkelhammer and Benjamin Alsip will conduct field-based experiments at Fermi Lab to determine how nighttime evaporation from natural and agricultural ecosystems differ. Coupled with controlled lab tests, this work will shed light on how land use decisions impact the state’s water budget in a changing climate.

For more information on these projects, visit ilwaterresources.org/current-research.