March 2015 Newsletter 
North Central Region Water Network
Extension-led, community-driven outreach and education
Director's Update


 Water Day is Every Day


Don't get me wrong. Having a day devoted to water is a great idea. March 22, 2015, World Water Day, was a day for us to consider some fun and not so fun facts about the importance of water in our lives. For example, most of the nearly 2000 gallons of water the average American "uses" every day is the water that produces the food we eat. The Great Lakes contain approximately 84% of North America's surface fresh water and 21% of the world's surface fresh water.  World wide, more people have mobile phones than toilets.


For the North Central Region Water Network, water is central to our mission and to the lives of the people we serve. Farmers watch water like some of us are watching March Madness. We also serve folks that are monitoring the quality of their rivers and streams, managing urban stormwater, and providing safe drinking water. Bottom line, we think critically about water and how to conserve it for future generations more than once a year and since you're reading this newsletter, I'm pretty sure you do, too. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure you think critically about water nearly every day.


So while it's a good idea to have an annual World Water Day, I believe we are working toward an every-day practice of consciously and considerately using water in ways that conserve opportunities for future generations. Opportunities to farm, to drink from the kitchen faucet without fear of illness, opportunities to fish and to swim in nearby lakes and streams.  You'll find examples in this newsletter of people for whom World Water Day is every day. I hope these stories spark some ideas for your own practice, and thanks for all that you do!


Rebecca Power, Director 

North Central Region Water Network

Network Initiatives
For the next several months we will take a closer look at the 2014 & 2015 initiatives. For more information on these, visit our  Network Initiatives Page.

Mentoring for Early Career Extension Educators: A Systems Approach to Nutrient Management

Excess nutrients from agricultural lands have been identified as a major contributor to harmful algal blooms and hypoxic zones around the world and specifically in the Western Lake Erie Basin and Gulf of Mexico (Diaz and Rosenberg, 2008; Carmichael, 2008).

Extension Educators at the county level play a critical role as local change agents in the promotion of new approaches to farm management.  The goal is to design a mentoring program for early-career Extension Educators focusing on systems approaches to nutrient management for water quality at the field, farm, and watershed scale. The project team will convene a multidisciplinary expert panel to outline the knowledge and skills needed to facilitate systems approaches to nutrient management. 

Early service Extension educators from around the region will be recruited to participate in three webinars on systems approaches to nutrient management.

For more information on this project being led by Anne Baird, Program Director, The Ohio State University, visit the initiative page here.

Leadership Spotlight: Kansas State University Extension
Each month we call attention to a significant state-led project and associated leadership team member from our Network. These spotlights demonstrate the diversity of ongoing water research and outreach projects in our region. Please contact your state's North Central Region Water Network Leadership Team member for details on the projects in your area. 
Spotlight on Kansas State University Extension

by Daniel Devlin


The Little Arkansas River watershed is located in central Kansas.  Ninety-seven percent of the land area in the watershed is in agricultural production (78% cropland and 19% grazingland). 52% of stream segments and 50% of lakes have water quality problems that violate water quality standards. The most common pollutants are fecal coliform bacteria, excess nutrients, atrazine herbicide, and sediment and total suspended solids. Led by Ron Graber, Kansas State University Extension Watershed Specialist, a 9-element watershed plan was developed by local watershed stakeholders who determined the top priorities for implementation were to reduce atrazine herbicide and sediment delivery to surface waters.

Pesticide BMP Implementation : Over a 5-year period, KSU Extension targeted six watersheds for implementation of best management practices (BMPs) for atrazine herbicide. An education and demonstration program, surface water monitoring program, and incentive program for atrazine BMP implementation were developed and delivered to the targeted watersheds. Twenty-one educational meetings were conducted to train 641 farmers and pesticide dealers. An atrazine BMPs publication was developed and distributed. BMP demonstration/research sites were developed at three farmer field sites to discover, demonstrate, and evaluate the effectiveness of BMPs for pesticides, sediments, and nutrients. The city of Wichita, KS, state agencies and EPA provided funding for incentive payments to farmers for implementing atrazine BMPs. Payments were based on the amount of pollutant reduction practices the farmers were willing to implement. A KSU Extension agronomist made 483 on-farm visits with farmers to get their commitment to implement atrazine BMPs. Due to this program, farmers implemented atrazine BMPs on 76,447 corn and grain sorghum acres over the 5 years. An automated surface water monitoring system was installed in the streams at the base of the watersheds targeted for BMP implementation and also at the base of four adjoining watersheds. Water quality monitoring of treated and untreated watersheds found approximately 50% lower atrazine concentrations in streams in targeted watersheds in which BMPs had been implemented.
Sediment BMP Discovery and Implementation : Watershed GIS maps and modeling were used to select Black Kettle Creek subwatershed for targeted BMPs adoption efforts. Using ArcSWAT, 10% of the sediment yield was estimated to come from 1.9 to 4.4% of the watershed and 20% from 4.6 to 10.7% of the watershed. The results were used to develop a schedule of BMP cost per unit sediment reduction for targeted locations in the watershed. An education program, which included educational meetings and on-farm visits, was delivered to watershed stakeholders. Using special funding from a grant, a BMP implementation incentive program was developed to reduce sediment delivery from cropland. Outcomes included 25 farmers committing to implementing BMPs on 138 crop fields (4,810 acres), resulting in 40% reduction annual sediment delivery to streams within the watershed. 
Dr. Daniel Devlin
Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment, Kansas Water Resources Institute
Dr. Daniel Devlin is a Professor of Agronomy at Kansas State University, the Director of the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment and the Kansas Water Resources Institute. Dr. Devlin received a B.S. and M.S. in Agronomy from Kansas State University and a Ph.D in Agronomy from Washington State University. His research projects serve a broad array of institutional and individual stakeholders in-state and federal agencies charged with natural resource management, universities and colleges, agricultural organizations, cities, farmers and other citizens, watershed groups, and tribal governments.
The Current Webinar Series
Our  w ebinar series is your connection to our Network and water outreach, research and collaboration efforts across the North Central Region. Designed for busy working professionals like yourself, the webinars are only an hour and won't take up much space on your calendar. We hope you will join the conversation. 

Please visit our webinar overview page for details on upcoming and past webinars. 

The Current Webinar 7: Des Moines Water Works Lawsuit
April 15, 2015

 The April webinar will focus on the timely and possibly impactful Des Moines Water Works  lawsuit. Kristine Tidgren, Iowa State University, will offer her expert legal analysis and  implications. 

 Kristine is the staff attorney for the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation. Kristine analyzes  legal developments impacting producers and practitioners, has written numerous articles and  legal briefs, and is a frequent speaker on ag and tax law topics.
Past Webinars:
If you happened to miss one of our webinars in 2014 or 2015, be sure to visit our webinar archive page to get caught up on the latest from our Network. You can also view these by going directly to our NEW NCRWN Youtube Page.   Thank you!
Annual ASCE Environmental and Water Resources Conference
Date: March 26-27 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m Kirkwood Conference Center, Cedar Rapids, IA

This conference and workshop will focus on examining the management and engineering challenges that lie ahead in addressing the important water resources issues in the years ahead.  The health and welfare of the people of Iowa, and the continued development of the state economy, will depend on sound and timely engineering practice and management skills to ensure protection of our vital water resources. Learn more here


Sawyer Seminar Symposium -The Once and Future River: Imagining the Mississippi in an Era of Climate Change
Date: April 8-10 Best Buy Theatre, Northrop. Minneapolis, MN
The symposium "The Once and Future River: Imagining the Mississippi in an Era of Climate Change" brings scholars from the humanities and social sciences into conversation with experts from the realm of river policy and management to explore the river as both a cultural and physical entity. Individual sessions will address numerous ways of defining the spatial and conceptual scope of the river, the ways artistic expression shapes-and is shaped by-the physical landscape, and what "resilience" and "sustainability" might mean for the river in the future.  Learn more  here.  

Michigan Shoreline Educator Training: A Train-the-Trainer Program

Date: April 24 8:00 a.m.-4 p.m. 
Clare-Gladwin RESD, Clare, MI
The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP) and  MSU  Extension are offering a professional training for individuals interested in becoming a part of the MNSP Shoreline Educator Network (SEN). Interested individuals may be part of a Conservation District, a watershed organization, a township or county official, a lake association member, a soil erosion group, a conservation group, a master gardener volunteer, a nursery professional, or anyone interested in promoting or teaching natural shoreline landscaping on inland lakes to other homeowners. Learn more here .
Funding Opportunities

NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program: Water for Agriculture Challenge Area

Deadline: April 9 (Letter of Intent) Application: July 16
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, AFRI NIFA Water for Agriculture RFA focuses on solutions for conserving higher quality water and understanding the human behavior and its influence on decision making for agricultural water use. Continued significant variations from the historical rate of water supply, demand and quality are projected to have major impacts on agricultural, forest, and rangeland production systems.  More info

NIFA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative  Competitive Grants Program: Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change Challenge Area
Deadline: April 2 (Letter of Intent) Application: June 4
The Agriculture and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change (ANRCVC) Challenge Area focuses on the societal challenge to adapt agroecosystems and natural resource systems to climate variability and change and implement mitigation strategies in those systems. More info

McKnight Foundation - Mississippi River Program

Deadlines: August 1 for November consideration, November 1 for February consideration

The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation, seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations. Through grant making, collaboration, and encouragement of strategic policy reform, we use our resources to attend, unite, and empower those we serve.  More info

In Case You Missed it...
Elizabeth Juchems, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach -  Water Rocks!: Making a Splash with Youth Water Education
Kate Reilly, University of Wisconsin-Extension - ThinkWater, The Next Big Thing in Water (Thinking) Just Got Bigger!
Catherine Techtmann, University of Wisconsin-Extension -  G-WOW: Gikinoo'wizhiwe Onji Waaban (Guiding for Tomorrow) Changing Climate, Changing Culture - A Model and Tools for Increasing Climate Change Literacy

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