Research Working Groups

High Plains Water

Leaders: Randy Stotler and Jon Smith
Team Members: Don Whittemore, Geoff Bohling, Ed Russell, Christina Kerns, Greg Ludvigson, Belinda Sturm, Bruce McEnroe, Rosemary O’Leary

Sustainable Agriculture

Leaders: Chris Brown and Sara Gregg
Team Members: Ray Pierotti, Jude Kastens, Jorge Soberon, Gaisheng Liu, Brownie Wilson, Dana Peterson, Haiyang Chao, Belinda Sturm, Dietrich Earnhart, Kathy Porsch

Water Security: Geopolitics, Environmental Justice & Ethics

Team Leader: Rex Buchanan
Team Members: Gerald Mikkelson, Randy Stotler, Perry Alexander, Xingong Li, Shannon O’Lear, Kevin Dobbs, Jim Butler, Brent Metz, Antoinette (Anne) Egitt (she is a grad), Uma Outka, Steven Obenhaus, Dietrich Earnhart

Public Perception / Education / Changing Attitudes

Team Leader: Rex Buchanan
Team Members: Kate Meyer, Kari Cantarero, Diana Restrepo, Steven Duval, David Guth, May Tveit, Caroline Chaboo, Bryan Darby, Paul Outka, Dietrich Earnhart, Dennis Domer, Jeremy Shellhorn, Paola Sanguinetti, Stacey Swearingen-White, Celka Straughn

Surface Water Quality and Quantity

Team Leader: Steve Randtke
Team Members: Bryan Young, Frank DeNoyelles, David Parr, Mark Jakubauskas, Philip Gao, Ray Pierotti, Belinda Sturm, Stacey Swearingen-White, Christopher Rogers, Masato Ueshima, Don Huggins, Edward Peltier, Edward Martinko, Sarah Crawford-Parker, Jane Gibson, Andrew Short, Kathleen Nuckolls

Research Interests:

This working group’s primary thrust area is reservoir sedimentation. There are more than 130,000 reservoirs in Kansas greater than one-quarter of an acre in size. They are gradually filling up with sediment, some at much faster rates than others; and several major reservoirs are filling up at alarmingly high rates. Sediment buildup in reservoirs degrades water quality, commonly manifested in more frequent algal blooms, taste-and-odor episodes, and fish kills, and diminishes their capacity to serve their intended purposes, such as flood control, water supply, recreation, and fish and wildlife habitat.

The group seeks to address this problem, in concert with other individuals and organizations, by:
1) gaining greater understanding the actual sources of the sediment entering Kansas reservoirs (e.g., field runoff versus streambank erosion) and evaluating the effectiveness (and cost-effectiveness) of measures to prevent sediment from entering reservoirs; 2) examining the potential for reservoirs to be redesigned so they either retain less sediment or are less adversely impacted by sediment accumulation; 3) evaluating alternative dredging equipment and techniques, alternatives to dredging, and novel ways to cost-effectively utilize dredge spoils; 4) assessing the ecological impacts of sediment on reservoirs, and on streams upstream and downstream from reservoirs, and ways to minimize such impacts; 5) characterizing the changes that occur in the chemical and biological functioning of smaller reservoirs (e.g., farm ponds) as they age, and identifying the ecological and water quality implications of these changes; 6) gathering more data to characterize the condition of the overwhelming majority of Kansas reservoirs for which little or no data are currently available; 7) estimating the financial costs associated with current and alternative reservoir management strategies over the next 50 to 75 years, including the increased drinking water treatment costs incurred by municipalities as the quality of their source water deteriorates; and 8) determining how reservoir sedimentation, dredging, and disposition of dredge spoils affects mosquito populations and toxic algae, as related to public health.

This group began meeting in November, 2013. To date, the group has focused primarily on reservoir sedimentation, but one subgroup is currently considering applying for a grant to examine the ecological impacts of manufactured chemicals, another subgroup is evaluating potential sources of funding for novel techniques to assess watershed morphology, and the group as a whole is reviewing potential funding sources for opportunities to collaborate on other research topics of interest to some or all members of the group.

Other research topics of interest to various members of the group, which may eventually morph into defined thrust areas, include:
1) the impacts of nested impoundments and reservoirs within watersheds, under current and estimated climate conditions, on creation of artificial flow regimes, retention of sediment and organic matter, loss of floodplain/river connectivity, and emigration and immigration of species; 2) algal toxin occurrence, effects, and control; 3) drinking water treatment to control naturally occurring and synthetic chemical contaminants; 4) the impacts of nutrients, pharmaceuticals, and other contaminants on receiving streams, and treatment processes for removing these and other constituents from wastewater and stormwater; 5) water quality monitoring, particularly with respect to pathogens and identifying their sources using microbial source tracking techniques; 6) water quality modeling of agricultural runoff; 7) using statistical methods and GIS to analyze and improve hydrologic design methods; 8) applications of radar-based rainfall estimates in hydrologic modeling; and 9) developing sound engineering procedures to modify streams altered by human activity to better mimic natural channels.
Water Recovery / Reuse (Oil/gas waste water treatment plants)

Team Leader: Stephen Johnson
Team Members: Philip Gao, Jenn-Tai Liang, Karen Peltier, Reza Barati, Marie Alice L’Heureux, George Tsoflias, Dewey Barich, Steve Randtke, Edward Peltier, Belinda Sturm, Paola Sanguinetti, Dietrich Earnhart, Masato Ueshima, Laurence Weatherley, Steve Padget

Green Infrastructure

Team Leader: Jeff Severin
Team Members: Marie Alice L’Heureux, Dale Nimz, Kathleen Nuckolls, Ward Lyles, Steve Padget, Ted Peltier, Andrea Herstowski, Belinda Sturm, Bruce McEnroe, Chris Depcik, Paola Sanguinetti, Stacey Swearingen-White

Water / Energy Nexus

Team Leader: Nate Brunsell, Belinda Sturm
Team Members: Scott Campbell, Christopher Lyon, Ron Dougherty, Marie Alice L’Heureux, Dorothy Daley, Randy Stotler, Andrea Brookfield, Steve Randtke, Edward Peltier, Chris Depcik, Uma Outka

Climate Change (Hydroclimatology)

Team Leader: Sharon Billings
Team Members: Charlie Zheng, Cornelis van der Veen, Andy Bentley, Gwen Macpherson, Andrea Brookfield, Dave Mechem, Greg Ludvigson, Johannes Feddema, Leo Smith, Dave Fowle, Randy Stotler, Belinda Sturm

Surface Water Ecosystem Services

Team Leaders: Don Huggins and Jim Thorpe
Team Members: Bob Honea, Dean Kettle, Ray Pierotti, Paul Liechti, Christopher Rogers

Sensors and Instruments

Team Lead: Greg Ludvigson
Team Members: Haiyang Chao, Sue Lunte

Current and Upcoming Events

Students Make Every Drop County at Douglas County Water Festival

On Friday, September 28th 2018, over 800 fifth grade students from Douglas County will converge on the
Bloomington Park area of Clinton Lake for the Douglas County Water Festival, “Make Every Drop Count.”
This event is a highlight of the fall where students learn about the importance of water in Kansas, the
science of water quality, our critical supplies of fresh water, the ecology of aquatic environments and the
impact of water throughout the history of Douglas County. Students will be actively engaged in discovery
and hands-on science. Water has been and will continue to be an important issue and this event hopes to deepen the understanding of this critical resource to the next generation policy makers.

This educational event is a collaborative effort led by the Douglas County Conservation District, funded in
part by the Douglas County Heritage Conservation Council, and hosted by the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers. Sponsors of this event include the U.S. Geological Survey, Rural Water District #2, Rural Water
District #5, Douglas County Farm Bureau, Bartlett and West, Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams,
and Frontier Farm Credit. Presenters will include state and local conservation professionals as well as
University of Kansas students, staff and faculty.

Contact: Contact: Sue Ann Funk, Douglas County Conservation District ( Phone 785-843-4260, ext. 3.



If you are interested in joining the water research community or you have information that you would like to make available to the this community please contact either individual listed below:

Bob Rummer,
Director of Research Development,,
Tricia Bergman,
Director of Strategic Partnerships,,

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