From the Director

20 March 2020

What weird times we’re living in right now! I can say, up until this week, 2020 has been an especially busy year.  We’ve had at least 6 storm events in the past 6 weeks, which has kept the lab very busy with lots of muddy samples.  As of March 1st we officially entered the spring loading season for the Lake Erie bloom forecast, so it can stop raining any day now!

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Before and during a storm event from a station last week

Since the last update, I’ve been to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln to give a seminar and meet with our collaborators at the Water Science Laboratory (watch here).  Nate gave a talk at the Great Lakes Symposium at the Toledo Zoo for an audience of a couple hundred middle and high school students from multiple Toledo-area schools. We also went to the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada in early March for a talk on the 2019 results and heard lots of updates from the edge-of-field research and other agroecosystem research. I’m also happy to report that the 2019 loads are complete for each of our stations.  It took a bit longer this year, in part because of the record-high number of stations we are running!  Monitoring 23 stations is a big task and we’ve been doing a great job of providing high-quality data for each of these.

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Screenshot of the autoBeale program for loads

The Sandusky River Watershed Coalition had a great News and Brews event in February featuring Ray Grob to chat about his experiences on the Sandusky River.  In addition, supplies to start stenciling storm drains have been acquired and are available for people who need volunteer activities.  These were tested a couple weekends ago around Tiffin.

 

A big congratulations to our post-doc, Tian Guo, for starting a new position with the National Soil Erosion Research Laboratory and Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering at Purdue University last week.  She will be missed, but luckily in our line of work, we can continue to collaborate!

And now for the updates regarding COVID-19 and the Ohio Stay-at-Home order… You may have heard the news that the Heidelberg campus will be closed after Sunday for the rest of the semester and that all classes have moved online.  Aaron and Rem will have their hands full transitioning existing content into this new platform!  For the lab, we are suspending sampling at stations where the samples have to be shipped (Raisin, Cuyahoga, Great Miami, Scioto, and Muskingum) and reducing sampling frequency at the remaining stations to once per day starting on Monday, March 23.  This should get us ~2-3 weeks of sampling before we’d need new bottles. We are in the Maumee loading season for predicting bloom severity, and thus will prioritize Maumee sampling as we are able.   Though the order only lasts for two weeks, who knows what will happen as we move forward.  We will be making decisions that prioritize the health of everyone at the NCWQR first, and then we’ll be sampling as much as we can second!

Until then, sample on!

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