2002 Progress Report: Duluth Streams: Community Partnerships for Understanding Urban Stormwater and Water Quality Issues at the Head of the Great Lakes

EPA Grant Number: R829321
Title: Duluth Streams: Community Partnerships for Understanding Urban Stormwater and Water Quality Issues at the Head of the Great Lakes
Investigators: Lonsdale, Marion , Axler, Richard , Hagley, Cindy , Host, George E. , Munson, Bruce , Richards, Carl
Institution: Department of Public Works & Utilities - Duluth , University of Minnesota - Duluth
EPA Project Officer: Hiscock, Michael
Project Period: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2003
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2002
Project Amount: $724,261
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Statistics , Water , Ecosystems , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


The main objectives of this research are to: (1) link real-time remote sensing of water quality in four urban streams and geographic information systems (GIS) technology to current and historical water quality and biological databases (all 42 streams) using advanced data visualization tools in Internet/World Wide Web and Information Kiosk formats; (2) incorporate visually engaging interpretive text, animations, and videos into the Duluth Streams Web Site to illustrate the nature and consequences of degraded stormwater and the real costs to society; and (3) engage the public in the stormwater issue via programmatic activities such as establishing high school-directed neighborhood stewardship/monitoring of three streams, developing curricula for high school and college students for inclusion in our Water-on-the-Web curriculum, hosting a Duluth Streams Congress as a community forum for presenting all project results, and by adapting the Nonpoint Source Education for Municipal Officials Program (NEMO) to the greater Duluth Metropolitan Area.

Progress Summary:

The Duluth Streams Web Site is the focus of the project, and although still under construction, the Site now offers water quality, biological, and GIS data, and a variety of formal and community educational material (major topics shown in image to the left). The project actually began in January 2002, due to administrative delays, but is on track with no major setbacks at this point. There also were unanticipated problems associated with the acquisition and installation of the stream monitoring instrumentation that delayed the data stream by approximately 3 months. Incorporating precipitation data into the data stream has proven difficult, but should be resolved by spring 2003, by moving a city precipitation gauge to the Kingsbury Zoo site and feeding its signal directly to the water quality data logger. Quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) of the streams of automated sensor data is daunting, but was expected based on our experience with remote lake sampling from previous projects (see below).

Figure 1. Manual Water and Flow Sampling at Kingsbury Creek

Figure 2. Manual Water and Flow Sampling at Chester Creek

Figure 3. Manual Water and Flow Sampling at Tischer Creek

Data. Manual water and flow sampling began during the spring runoff in April 2002, at three primarily urban designated trout streams: Kingsbury, Chester, and Tischer Creeks. The streams were chosen on the basis of usage, geographic coverage of the city, and land-use variety. Automated stream monitoring units (SMUs) with data loggers, modems, and flow, temperature, effluent concentration (EC), and turbidity sensors were deployed during summer 2002, at each with an event-triggered sampler installed at Kingsbury at a site within the Duluth Zoo for security, telecommunications, and educational reasons. Additional water samples were collected manually at the Chester and Tischer Creek sites and analyzed for nutrients (N- and P-series), 5-day Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD5), total suspended solids (TSS), and fecal coliforms to estimate seasonal water quality variations and loading.

A Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) was developed to set stringent protocols for sample collection and analysis, sensor maintenance and calibration, and data processed and displayed on the Duluth Streams Web Site.

Automated data are posted in HTML and spreadsheet formats as well as via a customized visualization tool that animates the time series data . We are in the process of developing graphics to display the manually collected data and also will present them in spreadsheet format for ease of use. An annotated archive of historical data sources (posted as .pdf files where possible) also is being compiled.

An extensive library of GIS data is being developed for all 42 watersheds, initially focusing on the three with automated data, with the second tier to include all 12 designated trout streams. An Internet Map Server, with a "Quick Start Primer," is available, and the maps are interactive, allowing different kinds of map layers (roads, land use, water bodies) to be turned "on" or "off" to create customized maps. A user also can perform interactive queries to collect information about different items on the map, and so it is a powerful way to distribute GIS data over the Internet. It also will soon include high resolution (< 1 m), ortho-rectified aerial photography contracted by the city.

Interpretive Text, Animations, and Videos. The Web site includes a major "Understanding" section with the following subsections: Stream Primer, Water Quality Primer, Urban Hydrology, and Organisms. These will focus on basic stream ecology, water quality parameters, water transfers relevant to individual households, and biological communities including keys and ecological information using real-time data to illustrate key concepts whenever possible. A small grant funded by the University will allow us to develop an animation of the effects of specific land-use disturbances on stream water quality. The "Citizen Involvement" and "Stormwater Management" sections of the Web site are being developed to educate citizens and also to provide detailed information to allow them to reduce their own impacts on stormwater and to take action as volunteers, or to become politically active. The Web site will serve as a clearinghouse for water-related information, emphasizing streams, stormwater, and stormwater mitigation that is now scattered over numerous agency Web sites at best. In this regard, it will benefit resource and regulatory agencies (county, region, state, and federal), and the private sector (engineering and consulting firms, contractors, vendors) as well as private citizens and students.

Community and Student (Schools) Education via Programmatic Activities. To date, we have:

  • Enrolled three schools and trained their teachers and students in water quality sampling methods to participate in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)/U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Monitoring Day activity in October 2002, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (Washburn-Edison Middle School for Tischer Creek, Harbor City High School for Chester Creek, and Proctor High School for Kingsbury Creek). Students continue to collect samples, which will be posted on the Duluth Streams Web Site as well as the National Monitoring Day Web Site. Biological monitoring is included in the school programs and they will enroll in the River Watch program described below.

  • Established a collaboration with the St. Louis River Watch program that previously set up annual monitoring programs at about 20 regional high schools (many of Duluth's urban streams are tributaries of the St. Louis River, the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior). Duluth Streams is establishing event-oriented sampling at the three "prime" schools as a model for other regional volunteer efforts using water quality and biological sampling protocols that follow applicable state and federal QA procedures and are consistent with Minnesota's Citizen Stream Monitoring Program (CSMP). Data forms, educational materials, taxonomic keys, and relevant summary data will be posted on our Web site as well as the River Watch site that Duluth Streams staff is developing, and temporarily hosting, to complement our site.

  • Developed plans for a kiosk to be used at the Duluth Zoo and the Great Lakes Aquarium that will describe the project, the sampling equipment, and related educational resources that will be used by Zoo/Great Lakes Aquarium staff for their programmatic activities. Opportunities for funding a dedicated computer kiosk will be sought for the Zoo Site; the Great Lakes Aquarium already has a computer kiosk that provides public access to our Water-on-the-Web and LakeAccess sister Web sites.

  • Participated (booth with poster, videos, and urban runoff demonstration models) in the Stowe Elementary School Annual Water Festival (April 2002) and assisted with their water curriculum. The city also has assisted with storm drain decals and cement stenciling at multiple locations, and is developing Trout Stream trading cards, with ecological information for elementary school students.

  • Adapted the NEMO program to the greater Duluth metro area. This effort involves collaborative workshop sponsorship, GIS analysis, presentations, and collaborative grant writing.

    Future Activities:

    The Web site is still under construction and it will take the next quarter to finish the "static" sections. A variety of interpretative pieces regarding water quality and biological data are planned. Stream monitoring units will be redeployed when spring conditions permit; manual sampling will be conducted in late winter and during the first pulse of the spring runoff. The data visualization tool is being modified for improved user friendliness and versatility, including the potential to import manually collected data on weekly to monthly time steps. Additional GIS maps for all 12 of the trout streams will be produced and made available on the site. We also plan to link fish distribution data collected by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to these maps as well as water quality and biological data where they exist in digital form. The ultimate goal is to provide a comprehensive Web-based framework for compiling relevant data into an enduring spatial database. We will continue to gather and archive historical water quality and biological (fish, stream insects, etc.) data. The NEMO program is being actively expanded by Minnesota Sea Grant staff and elements of this "curriculum" will be incorporated into the Duluth Streams Web Site. Additional funding is being sought via several grants that would include GIS analysis of impervious surfaces in the focus trout stream watersheds. The inclusion of Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Beach Monitoring Program data into the Web site is scheduled to begin in summer 2003. The inclusion of examples and sources of products that can be used by homeowners, businesses, and developers to reduce stormwater runoff impact on streams also will be included. Water-on-the-Web water science curricula currently being developed will be disseminated to area high schools via the RiverWatch network. These lessons already are being pilot tested at Lake Superior College (a Duluth Community College) and ultimately will be tested around the country.

    Journal Articles:

    No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 8 publications for this project

    Supplemental Keywords:

    water, watersheds, ecological effects, cumulative effects, dissolved solids, particulate solids, total dissolved solids, TDS, effluence concentration, EC, total suspended solids, TSS, turbidity, nutrients, fecal coliform bacteria, 5-day biochemical oxygen demand, BOD5, dissolved oxygen, pH, clarity, major ions, chloride, ecosystem, indicators, restoration, terrestrial, aquatic, habitat, sustainable development, clean technologies, innovative technology, renewable, waste reduction, waste minimization, environmentally conscious manufacturing, remediation, stormwater best management practices, BMPs, public policy, decision-making, community-based, cost benefit, public good, conservation, environmental assets, modeling, monitoring, analytical, surveys, measurement methods, satellite, landsat, remote sensing, time-relevant, event-based sampling, data visualization tools, aerial photography, Great Lakes, Midwest, Minnesota, MN, EPA Region 5, urban, municipal, transportation, environmental consulting, government resource agencies., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, RESEARCH, Ground Water, Water & Watershed, Monitoring/Modeling, Monitoring, Civil/Environmental Engineering, Wet Weather Flows, Terrestrial Ecosystems, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Urban and Regional Planning, Watersheds, aquatic ecosystem, EMPACT, remote sensing, hydrologic dynamics, nutrient transport, wetlands, community-based approach, streams, nutrients, downstream effects, runoff, sediment transport, stream ecosystems, community water quality information system, stormwater, community outreach, community tracking, nutrient monitoring , water quality, community partnerships, aquatic ecosystems, lake ecosysyems, ecological models, nutrient transport model, stormwater runoff, ecology assessment models, water management options, watershed assessment, land management, stream ecosystem, Great Lakes, storm water, Storm Water Management Model, land use

    Relevant Websites:

    http://www.duluthstreams.org Exit
    http://wow.nrri.umn.edu Exit
    http://www.nrri.umn.edu/cwe Exit
    http://www.lakeaccess.org Exit
    http://www.shorelandmanagement.org Exit
    http://www.seagrant.umn.edu Exit
    http://www.comfortsystems.ws Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • Final Report