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July 2017 Newsletter 
North Central Region Water Network
Extension-led, community-driven outreach and education
Director's Update
How much can we pack into summer? Summer is field season for many of us - whether on the farm, in urban and suburban development, water-related research and monitoring, or educational field days for adults and kids.  Summer is vacation season - I hope many of you are not at your computers and will be reading this when you return.  And, since I want to support you (and me) in spending less time at our computers, I'll keep this short.
Last month I had the chance a national water summit put on by an organization called the US Water Alliance. The Alliance is working toward a more unified approach to managing water resources, a "one water" approach. Their approach is consistent with how land-grant universities, Cooperative Extension, and other systems-oriented organizations address issues that the water-related issues that individuals, families, organizations, and communities face. They are currently more focused in drinking water and community sewerage systems and are working to grow connections with agriculture.
The US Water Alliance has put together two useful publications that can inform all of us working toward water management systems that reflect the connected nature of water and the essential nature of water for human life.
The first is a "One Water Roadmap", outlining strategies across sectors and case studies that could and do support systems approaches to water management. Note that the US Water Alliance is looking for greater engagement from the ag sector, which is currently represented to a lesser extent than water utilities and municipalities. 
The second is "An Equitable Water Future: A National Briefing Paper". This report provides excellent background, case studies, and recommendations for creating more equitable access to quality drinking water.  

The report does not address issues like the impact of water pollutants on swimming and fish consumption. However, it's a great start for those of us working to provide safe drinking water for urban and rural populations, and it provides a useful model for adding information and ideas for how to address other water equity issues.
As always, we welcome your comments on how these publications might be useful to you and how land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension can help.

If you would like to contribute ideas for the future of the North Central Region Water Network, feel free to send me a note at .


Rebecca Power, Network Director


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Network Initiatives

Visit our  Network Initiative Page  for more information on current and previous initiatives, and future funding opportunities. 

Stormwater Practice and Maintenance Core Curriculum

Executive Summary
Stormwater Practices and Maintenance Core Curriculum will complete the development of five learning modules in a regional online curriculum to address stormwater management education for early career professionals. The first module has been completed and is hosted as a Moodle on the  eXtension learning platform. The regional curriculum began with seed grant from the North Central Region Water Network to fund the development of the first learning module. The remaining four modules will be developed in conjunction with a Technology grant from the University of Minnesota Extension. The full curriculum is anticipated to be available online in September 2017. Several opportunities to participate in the planning, development, review and implementation of the curriculum are available.

The Stormwater Practices and Maintenance Core Curriculum is an online course being developed to provide training to the new and early career stormwater  practitioners and educators. Course participants learn the fundamentals of stormwater science, practices, and management. Through the course they become equipped with the necessary resources and skills for use in stormwater management, construction, maintenance, and other practical applications. The Stormwater Practices and Maintenance Core Curriculum ultimately aides stormwater professionals and educators in improving and optimizing their stormwater operations.

Stormwater Practices and Maintenance Core Curriculum
The online course can be accessed at, by searching for Stormwater Practices and Maintenance Core Curriculum. The online course is a publicly available, regionally applicable and comprehensive stormwater training that can be used by stormwater professionals to 1) optimize their stormwater operations, and 2) help them to meet their community's clean water goals. The course is composed of five modules:

1. Introduction & Foundation
2. Stormwater Practices Planning & Selection
3. Specific Stormwater Practices: Life Cycle: planning, siting, design, construction, operation and maintenance
4. Stormwater Practices Construction & Maintenance, and
5. Regulatory Modules

Target Audience
This project will serve stormwater professionals including designers, engineers, landscape architects, contractors, builders and developers, commercial property owners and managers, inspectors, planners and building permit agencies, elected officials, local government managers, seasonal field staff, and educators.

Educational Goals 
The goal of this project is to develop a publicly available stormwater core curriculum platform using regionally uniform content and locally-specific research that can be readily used by educators, local governments and stormwater professionals to optimize their stormwater operations. Course objectives are learner-based, such that participants will:
* learn stormwater basics and gain skills to teach others, 
* learn both broad, regionally uniform and local, state-specific content,
* establish networking and local contacts or advocate in small communities through course participation,
* gain a better understanding of multi-state stormwater issues and gaps, and
* increase skills of area Extension professionals in developing online courses with national and regional exposure

What Can You Do?
Stormwater management is necessarily a multidisciplinary field due to the complexity of its nature, therefore the Stormwater Practices and Maintenance Core Course needs participation from multidisciplinary, multi-agency, community partners and public sector partners. Course development will require chapter outline reviewers, content developers and writers, video and photo contributors, pilot testers, and early adopters who may use the course in formal university courses, as a primer to a Sediment and Erosion Control class, as a requirement for contractors in an MS4 community, or in other innovative ways.

Project Contacts: 

Leadership Spotlight

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. 

Researching, Educating, and Utilizing Extension to Tackle Urban Water in Nebraska
Dr. Tom Franti's is working with Nebraska Extension's Urban Water Quality Team to focus on stormwater management for urban residents and municipalities to improve water quality in urban settings.
This Extension Team was recently developed during organizational conversations and grew out of a six-year project grant.  Dr. Franti and his colleagues strove to bring stormwater management education, research, and Extension to a wide array of audiences.  The team developed educational material for youth groups, green industry professionals, and municipal officials across the state. They provided demonstration sites for rain gardens, stormwater infrastructure tours, symposia, and online and print resources.  The resource materials ranged from education on the creation of rain barrels and the design of residential rain gardens to the implementation of green infrastructure to manage stormwater.
With supported funding from USDA-NIFA, Dr. Franti directed a diverse research effort that integrated research, teaching, and Extension. By evaluating the hydrologic character istics of existing residential rain gardens in Lincoln, Franti and his team concluded that of twelv e rain gardens, soil and plant conditions did not limit their function.  However, improper grading and berm construction limited the gardens' ability to hold runoff from a 1.25-inch design storm.  
outh stormwater education with online, interactive rain garden learning tool.
Dr. Franti recently collaborated with North and South Dakota Extension to deliver  two, multi-day training workshops to Extension and agency perso nal on riparian management for water quality protection. At the workshop, Dr. Franti delivered content related to riparian forest buffer design and a collaboration with Iowa State University educated Nebraska stakeholders about the Daily Erosion Project expansion into the state. The Daily Erosion Project tracks daily runoff and soil loss from a sample crop field in selected watersheds, to provide real-time data on the impact of soil erosion across the state. These regional projects were funded by North Central Region Water Network Capacity Building grants.

Alongside Extension stormwater teams, water research, and development works hops, Dr. Franti has also recently developed a new undergraduate course, Introduction to Ecological Engineering.  The course is intended to train the next generation of engineers in the use of ecology and engineering sciences to solve environmental challenges. Content and delivery for this course was coordinated with a sister course at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to create a collaborative, blended course, with class meeting times synchronized for sharing live, online lectures.  A student design project curriculum was implemented to allow students to work in collaborative, online, international teams, completing design projects via both synchronous and asynchronous online tools.

Through leadership and collaboration in a wide variety of water related Extension programs and educational activities, Dr. Franti strives to provide programs that keep water clean.

  Dr. Tom Franti, University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

Thomas G. Franti, P.E., is an Associate Professor and Surface Water Management Specialist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For 24 years he has conducted research and extension education programs related to protecting surface water quality. 

He has degrees in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (B.S.), Iowa State University (M.S.), and Purdue University (Ph.D.). He is a registered professional engineer in Wisconsin, and worked five years as an engineering consultant for STS Consultants in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In his spare time he enjoys outdoor sports, folk music concerts, creative writing, and beekeeping.


Iowa State Fruit and Vegetable Field Day 
August 7, 2017
Iowa State University's annual Fruit and Vegetable Field Day on Aug. 7 will feature research and demonstration projects on fruit and vegetable production for commercial growers, extension personnel, non-profit organizations and master gardeners. Learn more.

Nebraska Soybean Management Field Days 
August 8-August 11, 2017
The 19th annual Soybean Management Field Days focuses on staying competitive in a global marketplace, increasing profits and meeting the world's growing food and energy needs starting right here in Nebraska. Learn more.

Missouri Tomato Conference 
August 14-August 15, 2017
Join nationally recognized and local tomato experts for two days of educational sessions and tours of tomato farms at the Missouri Tomato Conference. Discussion topics will focus on both field and tunnel/greenhouse tomato production, and will include tomato culture, tomato cultivars, insect and disease management, fertility management, tomato grafting, harvest and post harvest handling, and tomato marketing. Learn more. 

University of Illinois Agronomy Day
August 17, 2017
The 60th annual Agronomy Day will be held at the University of Illinois on Thursday, Aug. 17. Equipment and crop varieties may have changed, but the goal of Agronomy Day has been consistent since its inception in 1957: to communicate cutting-edge research results that will benefit the Illinois farming community. Learn more. 

Do you know of an upcoming water or conservation event in the Midwest? Add it to the NCRWN website here

Funding and Other Opportunities

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Water for Food Production Systems Challenge Area
This AFRI Challenge Area focuses on multidisciplinary systems approaches, which integrate new technologies and strategic management that solve water availability and quality challenges in food production systems. The long-term goal of this program is to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and availability of safe and nutritious food while significantly reducing water use and preserving water quality. Applications are due by August 2, 2017.  Learn more.

Transdisciplinary Research into Detecting and Controlling Lead in Drinking Water
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the responsibility for making sure public water systems provide safe drinking water is divided among the EPA, states, tribal nations, and water systems. EPA is issuing this call for research to foster projects to (1) identify communities that are at a high risk of experiencing the adverse health effects of lead in drinking water; (2) identify opportunities to mitigate these risks; and (3) conduct educational and outreach efforts so that water system managers and the general public are aware of these risks and opportunities.  Applications are due by August 15, 2017. Learn more.

Upper Missouri Watershed Restoration
This project will occur across the Ruby, Big Hole, and Beaverhead Watersheds (Beaverhead includes all tributary watersheds upstream of Clark Canyon Reservoir). These watersheds comprise the southwestern portion of the Upper Missouri Watershed (a.k.a. Upper Missouri Headwaters or Missouri Headwaters Basin). In addition to the regional significance as the source for one of the largest rivers in the nation, local communities also depend on water for agriculture, drinking water, fisheries, and recreation. Applications are due by August 19, 2017.  Learn more.

In Case You Missed it...

The Current  is a speed networking webinar series for professionals engaged in water-related extension, research, and conservation activities. The North Central Region Water Network and Extension Directors from all 12 North Central states are sponsoring this series to highlight the best water-related research and Extension programming in the region. Webinars will run for 60 minutes, with three 10-minute project snapshots and 30 minutes of QA/peer-to-peer interaction.


August 9, 2017 - The Current 30: Cover Crops for Healthy Soils, Water Quality and Water Availability

  • Eileen Kladivko, Professor of Agronomy and Extension Professional at Purdue University: Cover Crops to Improve Water Quality
  • Dean Baas, Extension Educator in Sustainable Agriculture at Michigan State University: Cover Crops to Improve Water Quantity in Cropped Fields
  • Anna Morrow, Program Manager for the Midwest Cover Crops Council: Using the MCCC Cover Crop Selector Tool

Past Webinars: 

June 21, 2017 - The Current 29: Promoting Natural and Healthy Shorelines for Protecting Lakes
  • Julia Kirkwood, Non-Point Source Grants Project Manager at Michigan Dept of Environmental Quality: The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership: Creating a Comprehensive Approach for Promoting Healthy Shoreline Management
  • Bindu Bhakti, Water Quality Educator at Michigan State University Extension Oakland County: The Importance of Natural Shorelines: Program Basics and Lessons Learned from Property Owner and Train-the-Trainer Programs
  • Patrick Goggin, UW-Extension Lake Specialist, and Pamela Toshner, Lake Biologist at Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: Wisconsin's Healthy Lakes Initiative and Best Management Practices for Lake-Friendly Living Watch Now.

US Senators Push Bill To Ban Pesticide
A group of Democratic senators have proposed a bill that could outlaw chlorpyrifos. The bill, called the Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act of 2017, has emerged from ongoing debates about the chemical's safety.  Chlorpyrifos has been approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - but some studies have suggested that it could be harmful for neurological health, particularly in developing fetuses. Learn more.

NOAA, partners predict significant summer harmful algal bloom for western Lake Erie
NOAA and its research partners predict that western Lake Erie will experience a significant harmful algal bloom this summer, potentially reaching levels last seen in 2013 and 2014, though smaller than the record bloom of 2015. Learn more. 

In a first for Minnesota, Wright County to make watercraft inspections for aquatic invasive species mandatory
Signaling a get-tough attitude toward a threat to Minnesota lakes, Wright County has become the first county in the state to require boats, trailers, docks and other equipment to be inspected for aquatic invasive species (AIS).  The mandatory inspections apply to only four lakes in the county, but they may signal the beginning of an era when Minnesota boaters can expect greater scrutiny of their watercraft hygiene. Learn more. 

4 new Iowa conservation projects get funding
The Iowa State Soil Conservation Committee recently announced it is awarding nearly $150,000 to support research, education and demonstration projects focused on reducing non point pollution. The selected projects began July 1. Learn more. 

Learn more about NCRWN

NCRWN Fact Sheet
Want to see what we have been up to in the North Central Region Water Network? Check out our fact sheet for more details. 

Our Mission:

We work together to expand and enhance multi-state water outreach and research efforts across the North Central Region of the United States.

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