Thursday, February 20, 2014

Program Schedules Announced for Numerous Talks and Events

Things are happening here in Superior.  Several conferences and programs are coming up in town here - or nearby in Duluth.  In fact, have you checked out our

February 25 & 26  
Lake Superior NERR and UWS present the St. Louis River Summit at UWS.  It's free. Check out the schedule.HERE

February 25
River Talks at Clyde Iron in Duluth. Organized by WI Sea Grant. It will be on Microscopic Critters affecting health on the St. Louis River. The full schedule for the upcoming months is at this site    HERE

March 28Lake Superior Bi-National Forums Annual Meeting will be at Barkers Island
The schedule is now available. HERE The event is free.

March 28-30
Douglas County Fish & Game League Fair at the Wessman Arena.  Booths, talks, fishing, some free food.  More info. HERE  Ice fishing seminars, training your retriever, and more.  It's a 3 day event.

April 11
Science Night at UWS.  This community event will have interactive booths and learning opportunities. More info. HERE

We're excited about an upcoming Water Fair in mid-March that we will putting on at the Mariner Mall for 5th graders at Cooper and Bryant Elementary Schools.  Local experts from the community will running 10 learning stations for the youth - ranging from Invasive Species to Fisheries work, to watersheds to Bioaccumulation. This is the 2nd year for the fair and this year 40 more students will be participating.

Today was supposed to be our first round of puppet shows with Snow the Bald Eagle and Spotty the Leopard Frog.   Due to the coming snow storm the shows from today are rescheduled to next week where we are already heading out to 6 1st grade classrooms. That will be 9 shows by the end of the month.  It will be fun for all!   If you're local and would like us to come visit from a 10-20 minute program, let us know.

Get out there and take advantage of these learning opportunities about our local rivers and Lake Superior.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Lego Stormwater

Inspired by WLSSD's Facebook post on Wally's wastewater treatment plant. This is a stormwater version!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Water Film Night Survey results

Thank you to those who came out last night for our first free Water Film Fest night at UWS.  Thanks to the Lake Superior Research Institute for helping with the event and for all the local filmmakers and filmmakers beyond our region.

Here are the responses to a short survey that was handed out at the event.

Do you think water quality is better now than 50 years ago in the US?

   39% Yes
   47% No
 ~1% In some ways
 ~1% Don't know
 ~1% A little in some cases

What do you think is most important for water quality in the future?

  29% Education
  19% Government regulation
  14% Natural habitat
  14% Engineering design
   1% Individual action
  0.5% Population control, Global Warming, Conservation  (each 0.5%)

What do you view as the main water quality concern?

industrial pollution
oil industry
toxic runoff from mines
nonpoint pollution
Use of rivers/reservoirs
Invasive species
Red clay
contaminated sediments
proposed mining
Prescription drugs and chemicals
Too many chemicals are used
Overdevelopment - too many impervious surfaces

What do you suggest to improve local water quality?

Reduce chemical contamination
Reduce pollution
Reduce plastics
Social responsibility
Fire and rehire at the EPA
Educational programs in schools
Educ. about nonpt pollution
Not sure
Engage organizations, citizens and gov
Disseminate education info through variety of media
Develop/produce programs to schools, integrate into curriculum
Protect and restore wetlands and estuary
Less use of drugs and chemicals
Clean polluted sites
Curb development
I think ours is good
Better shoreline landscaping

What local water bodies do you spend the most time in or near?

Lake Superior
Duluth area lakes
local lakes
Middle river
Lake Superior/Wi Point
Amity Creek
Lester River/creeks
Fish pine creek, white river, WI
St. Louis River
Creeks in Duluth
St. Louis Bay & River
Nemadji River

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fun Event this Thursday

What: Short videos on water - playing in water, water awareness, nature scenes
When: Feb. 13, Thursday, 6-8:30 (with a little break)
Where: UWS - Swenson 1012

Why: It should be a fun night filled with video shorts on the topic of water. A few of the local videographers will speak a little something as well. Topics include:
  • What not to flush . . . we have to throw in some educational videos
  •  Local water images . . . with lovely music
  • Water Cycle Macarena . . . remember the macarena?
  • Winter surfing on Lake Superior . . . because it is all about having fun!

Here's a preview video:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Walk on Water

Have you ever watched a water strider insect skate on the lake or slow moving river?  It's a fun summer activity to observe their movements and dance on water.  How is this possible?  Why don't they sink?  It's because of the attraction of water to each other.  (Note - Valentine's Day is a week away - maybe you can celebrate the day with a clean, cool glass of water with your valentine.) Individual molecules of water form hydrogen bonds between each other which results in water 'sticking' together.  Water is cohesive and adhesive as these bonds keep the molecules together.   Surface tension is present on the surface of water and lightweight critters can then walk on water.  In fact, you can even float a paper clip on water.  Give it a try.  If you put the paperclip in with a couple fingers the paper clip will sink. Instead, use another paper clip as a little scoop to lower the paper clip on to the surface of water.  This keeps the oils in your fingers from interfering with the surface tension.  The paper clip will then be held up by the water even though it is slightly more dense. 

Humans can't quite walk on water - except this time of year.  The chilly days of winter have been going on for months now.  Ice fisherman are out in the bay, skaters are out, but there also can be hikes on water.  The sea caves on the south shore of Lake Superior are open displaying the interesting patterns of frozen water.   The area in the summer is only visible by boat but in the frozen winter more people can enjoy the beauty and walk right in the cave-like openings. The right conditions to walk out to the caves don't occur every year or throughout a whole winter season.

An automated Apostle Islands Ice Line is available - call (715)779-3398, extension 3, for current ice conditions at the mainland caves.
More information on the science of the ice formations and more photos are at

Another opportunity to walk on water (ice) is through the St. Louis River Alliance.  On Saturday, Feb 15 at 1 p.m. the organization is having an outing to explore old saw mill sites that were present on the St. Louis River.  For more information, go to

Enjoy water outdoors all the year through.  Be sure to stay safe and travel with caution on ice as the season comes to an end.  Spring will come some day.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Do you live in a watershed?

Yes! We all live in a watershed. The USGS defines a watershed as an "area of land where all the water that falls in it and drains off of it goes into the same place." 
All the water in the city basically ends up in Lake Superior, but do you know where it goes before then? Do you know the name of the stream nearest you? The rain that falls here at the wastewater treatment plant drain directly to Superior Bay of Lake Superior. If you live more inland, chances are your rain water flows into a storm drain connected to a stream before reaching the lake. Here are a couple of resources to determine the stream nearest you:
Streams of Superior (city website)
Lake Superior Streams (Info on streams from Duluth-Superior area)

We are constantly promoting "only rain down the drain" because storm sewers do NOT go through a treatment process. Do you have a storm drain by your home? Think about all the stuff that snowmelt and rain water flushes from your yard into the drain:
  • Road salt
  • Dog poop that never got picked up
  • Lawn fertilizers and other chemicals
  • Grass clippings and fallen leaves
  • Dirty washwater from washing your car at home
All of these will find its way to pollute our lake. The map above is a bit hard to read, but all the boxed red text shows our impaired waters due to pollution.

Keeping Lake Superior Blue Is Up To YOU!!