Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017MI244B

Nutrient Monitoring of the River Raisin Watershed to Inform Farmers and Optimize Decision Making for BMP Implementation

Institute: Michigan
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2018-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $11,145 Total Non-Federal Funds: $13,701

Principal Investigators: James Martin

Abstract: The River Raisin watershed is the largest contributing watershed in Michigan to the Western Lake Erie Basin. This watershed is heavily dedicated to agriculture and contains 4 TMDLs on the River Raisin, alone. The south branch of this watershed has also been deemed an area of concern by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, and a pay-for-performance program is currently being implemented to address non-point source pollution contributions from agriculture. However, the success of removing these TMDLs and reaching the nutrient reduction goals of the pay-for-performance program is reliant on farmer participation in conservation efforts throughout this process. Offering farmers data regarding nutrient (SRP and nitrates) levels throughout the watershed, as well as from their own tile drains, will offer better motivation to participate versus simply telling them there is a nutrient pollution problem. This data will also be useful for informing/verifying computer-simulated modeling tools used for targeting vulnerable lands. Problem Currently, little water quality data exists (other than at the mouth of the River Raisin) for the purpose of helping farmers make informed decisions regarding best management practice implementation in the River Raisin Watershed. Farmers need further information, in the form of chemical data, concerning nutrient loading in order to increase interest in adopting BMPs. Methods The Michigan State University (MSU) Institute of Water Research (IWR) will collaborate with both the River Raisin Watershed Council (RRWC) and Adrian College. Adrian College will provide a team of undergraduate students to perform the water sampling while under the supervision of a biology professor (Dr. Jim Martin). The RRWC will also contribute data through their adopt-a-stream program. All chemical analysis will be done in a lab at Adrian College. Results will be sent to the Institute of Water Research for further interpretation. Objectives Objective A: Objective A is to sample from 5 locations within the south branch of the River Raisin, as well as from 5 tile drains of farmers who have already agreed to participate in this study. This will be done twice a month, as well as during rain events that exceed 0.5 inches. We will collect pH, dissolved oxygen, nitrate, soluble reactive phosphorous, and flow measurements. Objective B: Objective B is to place all data in a format that is simple for farmers or the general public to read. We will have charts demonstrating what nutrient levels are coming off of fields (while keeping farmer information confidential), as well as what levels are in nearby streams and rivers. Objective C: Objective C is to present information to farmers during a field day held in Lenawee County during September of 2017 where over 100 farmers attended in September of 2016.