Advisory Board meets for discussion and review of USGS-funded projects

The Nebraska Water Center’s advisory board met in December to review progress on a number of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) funded research projects that are administered through an annual grants competition conducted by the NWC.

The board and research project leaders met on Dec. 12 at Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln.

Among those attending were John Bender, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ); Tom Franti and Suat Irmak, UNL Department of Biological Systems Engineering; Dana Divine, UNL School of Natural Resources and Conservation and Survey Division; Steve Thomas, UNL School of Natural Resources; Dan Miller, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service; Karrie Weber: UNL School of Biological Sciences and Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Peter McCornick, NU Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute; Dan Snow: Nebraska Water Sciences Labatory (WSL); and Steve Ress and Ben Beckman, NWC.

Several other members of the board attended via conference call.

NWC director Chittaranjan Ray introduced new advisory board members and WSL director Snow gave the board an overview of recent lab operations, including recent completion of a five-year administrative review.

WSL has increased its interactions with the advisory board as a result of that review, Snow said. WSL is also focusing on standardizing its business practices with the recent completion of a five-year business plan, which was completed in May 2016. Part of that plan includes seeking subsidies for WSL operations from several primary UNL colleges to help defray recent reductions in NRI support for the lab.

Recent USGS 104b seed grant recipients then gave short presentations on the status of their funded programs. These included:

  • Karrie Weber, UNL School of Biological Sciences and Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences: “Nitrate mediated Mobilization of Naturally Occurring Uranium in Groundwater.”
  • Bing Wang, UNL Department of Food Science and Technology: “Energy-water reduction and wastewater reclamation in a milk processing facility.” Presented by CarlyRain Adams
  • Amy Schmidt, UNL Department of Biological Systems Engineering: “Fate of Steroid Hormone Conjugates and E. coli from Manure in Soil: Potential Sources of Free Hormones and Pathogens in Forages and the Environment?”
  • Daran Rudnick, UNL West Central Research and Extension Center and Department of Biological Systems Engineering: “Economic, Environmental, and Crop Performance Assessment under Center Pivot, Subsurface Drip, and Furrow Irrigation systems in a Changing Climate in West Central Nebraska.”

After the short presentations, Ray asked board members to review WFI and NWC web pages that focus on the mission, vision, values, and goals of those two entitites, as well as the top 10 challenges facing Nebraska water management.  After review, each was asked to provide feedback on reshaping NWC’s missions and goals to better address future water challenges in Nebraska as well as in working with WFI to fill in needed focus areas in Nebraska without conflicting with their vision. 

Ray also asked the board for their opinions on adding a producer voice to the advisory board and their opinions on changing the funding/fundraising structure of the NWC to better allow it to fund long standing programs such as the Water and Natural Resources Tour and the Spring Water Seminar Series held in conjunction with UNL’s School of Natural Resources.

Current members:

John Bender, Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality

John Berge, North Platte NRD

Dana Divine, UNL School of Natural Resources and Conservation and Survey Division

Bruce Dvorak, UNL Department of Civil Engineering

Tom Franti, UNL Department of Biological Systems Engineering

Richard Holland, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Shannon Bartelt Hunt, UNL Department of Civil Engineering

Suat Irmak, UNL Department of Biological Systems Engineering

Alan Kolok, UNO Nebraska Watershed Network

Peter McCornick, NU Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute.

Dan Miller, U.S. Department of Agriculture/ARS

John Miyoshi, Lower Platte North NRD

Chittaranjan Ray, Nebraska Water Center and UNL Department of Civil Engineering

Jennifer Schellpeper, Nebraska Department of Natural Resources

Tim Shaver, UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture and West Central Research and Extension Center

Bob Swanson, USGS Nebraska Water Science Center

Steve Thomas, UNL School of Natural Resources

Karrie Weber, UNL School of Biological Sciences and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences