Research projects

 

Health and ecology

Human health
Improving beach monitoring for fecal contamination in urban waterways

Identifying waterways with a high bacteria level and exposure risk is necessary to protect public health at the approximately 560 bathing beaches along the American coast of the Great Lakes. City of Detroit beaches and rivers are less frequently monitored than neighboring affluent communities for periods of high bacterial loads, resulting in an unknown and potentially significant health risk to this underserved community. Contributing to high bacterial loads in Detroit surface waters are sewer overflows, surface runoff, failing septic systems, illicit sewer pipe connections, and sediment erosion. Ongoing collaborative research takes a community-based approach and engages local groups to empower residents to understand the risk and participate in monitoring their local beaches. Through development and implementation of rapid, reliable, accurate, simple and cost effective methods that are feasible for routine water quality monitoring and application of fecal marker technologies, we help to identify and address the sources of fecal water contamination.

Water contamination is a significant concern for both military and civilian water support agencies. Contamination may range from specific biological and chemical contaminants identified as having a high toxicity and a high potential for being used as terrorist agents to common biological and chemical contaminants from municipal and industrial sources. In order to ensure the safety of the public and soldiers, civilian and military water support agencies have a need to be able to detect the whole spectrum of contaminants in water. These intertwining needs have brought about collaborative effort between the army and local public health departments in Oakland County, Macomb County, and Wayne County. The initial goal identified was to determine in real-time, whether recreational water locations such as beaches are safe for public use. The current test to determine if a water source is contaminated has at least a twenty-four hour turnaround time. The system under development will eventually be able to detect a broad variety of biological and chemical contaminants in real-time or by remote monitoring and thus will serve as an important component in ensuring the safety of soldiers and the public.

The Secretary of the Army is the Department of Defense (DOD) Executive Agent for water resources management in support of contingency operations. The Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, Michigan is responsible for research, development, and engineering support for the development of equipment for water storage, distribution, water quality monitoring, water purification, and treatment. Part of the UWERG Smart Sensors and Integrated Microsytems (SSIM) water monitoring program is with TARDEC.

Investigators: Dr. Donna Kashian, Dr. Jeffrey Ram


Water Supply Monitoring Technology and Pathogen Detection

Water supply contamination is a significant concern for both military and civilian water support agencies, and human health and safety. Concerns range from biological and chemical contaminants with a high toxicity and potential for being used as terrorist agents to common contaminants from municipal and industrial sources. Water support agencies need to be able to detect a spectrum of contaminants in water and ensure the effectiveness of the selected water treatment methods. These intertwining needs fostered collaboration between Wayne State University and military and local public health departments in Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne counties, resulting in the development of new, real-time, water monitoring technologies. These new methods detect a broad variety of biological and chemical contaminants in real-time and by remote monitoring to rapidly determine whether recreational water locations such as beaches are safe for public use. The Smart Sensors and Integrated Microsytems (SSIM) water monitoring program can replace standard tests that have a twenty-four hour turnaround time, which can be an important component in human health safety improvements.

Investigators: Dr. Jeffrey Ram
Partners: Secretary of the Army Department of Defense (DOD) Executive Agent for Water Resources Management in support of Contingency Operations; Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) in Warren, Michigan


Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care Products and Endocrine Disruptors -- Occurrence, Fate and Transport in the Great Lakes Water Supplies and the Effect of Advanced Treatment Processes on Their Removal

In transitioning urban watersheds, such as Detroit, rivers and lakes receive contaminants from a wide variety of sources from changing land use and the development of post-industrial landscapes. These resources include conventional WWTPs, landfill leachate, and run-off from rapidly developing urban gardens and agriculture, demolished and abandoned infrastructure, and storm water from paved and other impervious surfaces. In addition, significant atmospheric deposition can also occur from the transitioning post-industrial landscape. Some of the contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) found in water, such as plasticizers, pesticides, surfactants, steroid hormones, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and other compounds, as well as contaminants in soil and air have the potential to negatively impact endocrine function in wildlife and humans as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These complex mixtures of contaminants can have synergistic, antagonistic and additive adverse effects on endocrine function at very low levels (e.g., ppb, ppt) of exposure. To date, little is known about the fate of these EDCs in urban watershed from resource water (river, lake or ground water) to the consumer (tap water) and the impact of exposure on freshwater ecosystems and human health. There is a critical need to better understand the presence, transport, fate and potential level of exposure to these EDCs. Therefore, the level of EDCs at water intakes and the effect of drinking water treatment processes on parent compounds and their treatment intermediates needs to be examined in order to improve the removal efficiency and limit exposure. This knowledge will enable drinking water treatment plant management to better monitor and optimize EDC removal efficiency.

Investigators: Dr. David Pitts, Dr. Yongli Zhang


Microbial source tracking for Michigan Environmental Health Managers

The health threats at public beaches posed by microbial contamination are complicated by the difficulty in identifying and cleaning up contamination sources. Surveys of public health departments representing more than half of the State of Michigan informed this project to evaluate and compare the results of various microbial source tracking methods. In addition to the comparative study, the project provided training to health departments in microbial tracking methods and developed best practices for sampling to protect public health.

Investigators: Dr. Jeffrey Ram
Partners: Various Michigan county health departments and independent microbial source testing laboratories
 Link: http://sun.science.wayne.edu/~jram/MGLPF-MSTProject.htm


Ecosystem Health

​Biotic and physical influences on internal phosphorus loading in a Great Lakes coastal ecosystem

Michigan’s Saginaw Bay is a eutrophic embayment of Lake Huron with excess nutrient loading from a large agricultural watershed. Despite ongoing efforts to reduce nutrient loads, phosphorus levels remain elevated. The effects of sediment type, oxygen level and the presence of zebra and quagga mussels on internal phosphorus loading were evaluated in order to better understand sediment phosphorus fluxes. Comparisons of phosphorus flux under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, and due to remineralization from mussel biodeposits, indicate that phosphorus release under anaerobic conditions is higher compared to aerobic conditions. These results suggest that contributions of phosphorus from sediments in Saginaw Bay may be controlled by episodic anoxic events. This work is an important part of a larger collaborative project to investigate the role of multiple stressors in Saginaw Bay.

Investigators: Dr. Donna Kashian
Partners: Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Link: http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/res/projects/multi_stressors/index.html


Saginaw Bay Muck - Integrated Assessment

Using the Integrated Assessment (IA) framework, the research team will summarize what is currently known about muck-related conditions at the Bay City State Recreation Area (BCSRA), including the social and economic impacts of muck at the park and on the Saginaw Bay Region as a whole. The project will build off of the five-year Saginaw Bay Multiple Stressors Project that started in 2007 and focused on evaluating different stressors and their effects on Saginaw Bay.

Engaging people who are affected by the muck — the stakeholders — is a priority. The target audience includes key decision makers from local, state, federal and non-government organizations in the region, as well as individuals with an interest in the muck-related issues at the park and in the Bay.

Are you a stakeholder? Learn more about how to become involved.

The team will ask for stakeholder input using a suite of models, interviews, surveys and meetings. The results of the IA will provide stakeholders with a shared understanding of what is currently known about the muck and options for managing the effects of muck.

Ultimately, the assessment will help the research team identify a series of feasible short-term and long-term management actions that could help alleviate and better manage the effects of muck.

Find out more here


Understanding environmental stressor influence on zebra and quagga mussels

Developing a complete understanding of the population dynamics of invasive zebra and quagga mussels (Dreissena spp.) is an essential component of early detection and control. Our study of the ways in which immature veligers and adult mussels respond to different stressors including harmful algal blooms, flame retardants, and PCBs is important for understanding their range expansions, competitive interactions with other species and each other, and vulnerability to control methods.

Investigators: Dr. Donna Kashian, Dr. Jeffrey Ram


Influence of landscape attributes and migratory fish on Michigan streams

Human land modifications impact stream ecosystems and biota by altering habitat structure and water quality. In-stream obstructions such as dams and culverts also affect stream ecosystems by increasing sedimentation rates and blocking movement of aquatic organisms between inland waters and the Great Lakes. These effects together with spring migrations of suckers may play an important role in overall stream productivity and nutrient dynamics. We are assessing landscape influences by comparing concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) among sites as a function of landscape attributes such as land use, canopy cover, dominant vegetation, watershed area, and slope. These attributes are quantified using a combination of field surveys and Geographic Information Systems. Fish influences are tested by comparing DOC, nutrient concentrations, and stream metabolism (primary productivity and microbial respiration) at sites above and below dams at times before, during, and after the sucker run. Potential nutrient inputs from suckers are quantified by censusing migrating fish using trap nets. In addition, we are analyzing metal concentrations in stream invertebrates because DOC influences metal bioavailability, changes in land-use may increase metal inputs to streams, and sucker runs may deliver such contaminants from the lake. This project provides important baseline data on stream ecosystems, offers a novel comparison of landscape attributes versus migratory fish as drivers of stream chemistry, and provides insight into conserving stream productivity and biodiversity through watershed management practices.

Investigators: Dr. Donna Kashian


Long-term changes in Daphnid responses to Great Lakes contaminants

This project presents a new method for studying past environmental change and long-term anthropogenic disturbances in the Great Lakes. Results from this project can aid in improved modeling, predictions and management for issues surrounding long-term change in the Great Lakes. Our lab is resurrecting historic daphnid populations for use in a series of carefully controlled bioassays aimed at determining the pace of evolutionary responses to environmental change. Ephippia, which are modifications of the daphnid carapace containing diapausing eggs, accumulate in the sediment and can be viable for decades. It is expected that historic daphnid populations will be more sensitive to persistent Great Lake contaminants than modern populations. We have initially focused on critical pollutants such as DDT and toxaphene through a series of bioassays. Our comparisons of environmentally relevant concentrations evaluate mortality and sublethal endpoints such as fecundity, growth rate, and sex-ratio. Through evaluation of the level of adaptation to contaminants over time we will have a better understanding of how modern daphnid populations are more tolerant than historic populations to pollutants such as DDT and toxaphene.

Investigators: Dr. Donna Kashian


Serotonin regulation of spawning and oocyte maturation in zebra mussels / Chemical signals regulating spawning in zebra mussels

These projects investigated the role of serotonin and algae in zebra (Dreissenid) mussel reproduction. Dr. Ram established the serotonin method for obtaining Dreissenid gametes, proved the physiological role of serotonin, and showed that algal extracts could activate spawning. Dr. Ram published more than 20 peer-reviewed papers and several reviews on the physiology and impacts of Dreissenid mussels.

Investigators: Dr. Jeffrey Ram


Invasives Early Warning Systems Validation in Toledo Harbor

Drs. Donna Kashian and Jeffrey Ram, along with Masters student Josh Southern, are validating and extending work by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Duluth-Superior Harbor to further develop intensive collecting and identification (taxonomic and molecular)methods in Toledo Harbor.

Investigators: Dr. Jeffrey Ram, Dr. Donna Kashian


Exotic gobies in the Great Lakes region

Several species of freshwater gobies have recently invaded the Great Lakes region of North America. The exact origin of the invading population is unknown but believed to be in their native range in contributory waters of the Black Sea. We determined haplotype frequencies for sequences in the cyt b mtDNA sequence of several populations in and near Lake St. Clair and compared them to a possible source population from the Black Sea near Varna, Bulgaria. The mtDNA sequences we analyzed were the first to be determined in gobiidae. Five haplotypes were identified in the populations analyzed and their frequency was significantly different between the Great Lakes sites and Varna, Bulgaria, suggesting that Black Sea near Varna was not the origin of the invading population.

Investigators: Dr. Jeffrey Ram


Detroit River Fish Consumption Advisory

Most fish are a healthy food choice, but some have harmful chemicals in them. UWERG members teamed up with University of Michigan researchers, the State of Michigan, and local community organizations to advise the public on how to eat Detroit River fish safely.

Link to "Eating Fish from the Detroit River" Poster

Link to "Eat Safe Fish in the Detroit Area" Pamphlet

Investigators: Dr. Donna Kashian, Dr. Maria Pontes Ferreira


Water use

Sediment Yield and Dam Capacity in Great Lakes Watershed Study

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains the navigability of the waters of the United States, including over 100 federal harbors and navigation channels. Nearly all of the precipitation falling in the Great Lakes Basin eventually passes through a federally-maintained harbor/channel, carrying with it sediment and contaminants. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spends approximately $40 million removing 2-4 million cubic yards of sediment from these channels and harbors annually. We apply both field and laboratory investigations to determine the historical and predicted future rates of sediment accumulation, as well as the remaining storage capacity, behind the network of dams in the Great Lakes watershed that are tributary to federal harbors. Partners: US Corps of Army Engineers

This study proposes to apply both field and laboratory investigations to determine the historical and predicted future rates of sediment accumulation, as well as the remaining storage capacity, behind the network of dams in the Great Lakes watershed that are tributary to federal harbors. Approximately ten reservoirs will be selected for the detailed field reconnaissance efforts. Information gleaned from these sites will be analyzed for applicability to the more distributed Great Lakes Watershed. The selection process for these reservoirs will be critical to ensure the resulting findings can be applied more globally. The majority of the reservoirs chosen for this study will be from Great Lakes sub-watersheds that are representative of “typical” agricultural basins, but with unique hydrological and hydraulic stream features that can be used to identify/associate sedimentation features with watershed features. Additionally, 1-2 reservoirs that are primarily forested and 1-2 reservoirs that are primarily urban will be chosen to compare sedimentation rates to the findings associated with the agricultural watersheds. Previous research has shown that sediment flux from watersheds with mixed land use/cover is quite different than that in watersheds strictly agricultural in character (Coulter et al. 2004).

Click here to view the presentation, Sources of Sediment: From raindrop impacts to geologic processes by Jim Selegean, of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – Detroit District delivered at the Great Lakes Sedimentation Workshop May 20-21, 2015 in Ann Arbor, MI.

Investigators: Dr. Carol Miller
Presentation: Sources of Sediment: From raindrop impacts to geologic processes by Jim Selegean, of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – Detroit District delivered at the Great Lakes Sedimentation Workshop May 20-21, 2015 in Ann Arbor, MI.


Real-Time System Optimization for Sustainable Water Transmission and Distribution (PEPSO)

This project developed software for integration with existing water utility operating systems to reduce the amount of pollutants entering the Great Lakes as the result of energy consumed by water utilities. This energy and pollutant reduction was achieved by improving pumping efficiency throughout entire water systems. Previously, collaborators on this project had developed a computer program and guidelines for pump optimization that allowed water distribution system (WDS) operators to reliably meet system demands while minimizing energy consumption. This project extends the usefulness of this technology to whole water delivery systems in order to realize the benefits of system-wide pumping optimization. This project is funded through the Great Lakes Protection Fund.

Investigators: Dr. Carol Miller
Partners: Tucker, Young, Jackson, Tull, Inc., the University of Dayton
Link: http://engineering.wayne.edu/wsuwater/hydraulics/pepso.php


Education

Innovation

Locational Emissions Estimation Methodology (LEEM)

LEEM is data program that derives real-time, location-specific emissions estimations for electrical generation based on location marginal prices. The LEEM platform is comprised of databases, algorithms and power flow models to accurately estimate the marginal emissions that result from the marginal generator supplying power to a specific location at a specific period of time. It is able to provide real-time and day-ahead emission estimates for carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and lead for energy users located in areas serviced by three Independent System Operators (ISOs): MISO, PJM ISO and NY ISO. The areas covered by the participating ISO’s stretch from New England to Montana.

Investigators: Dr. Carol Miller


Verification of ballast water treatment technologies

Methods for verifying ballast water treatments in foreign vessels are needed to protect the Great Lakes from the discharge of live non-native organisms or pathogens. A prototype automated viability test system using fluorescein diacetate (FDA), a membrane permeable fluorogen, to differentiate live from dead bacteria and algae is described. An automated fluorescence intensity detection device (AFIDD) captures cultured algae or organisms in Detroit River water (simulated ballast water) on 0.2 μm filters, backwashes them from the filter into a cuvette with buffer and FDA for subsequent fluorescence intensity measurements, and washes the filters with sterile water for serial automated reuse. Tests of various buffers determined those that cause the least spontaneous FDA breakdown without inhibiting enzymatic activity. Fluorescence in the presence of live organisms increased linearly over time, and the rate of increase was dependent on the sample concentration. Following simulated ballast water treatments with heat or chlorine, the fluorescence produced by Detroit River samples decreased to near control (sterile water) levels. Automated measurements of FDA hydrolysis with a reusable filter backwash system is applicable to near real-time remote-controlled monitoring of live organisms in ballast water.

Investigators: Dr. Jeffrey Ram


Digital Library for Complex Environment Analyses of the St. Clair Watershed

The rural and natural landscapes of the Lake Saint Clair Watershed exist in a matrix of urban centers including Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. Pollutants within the watershed do not adhere to international borders, yet they have a profound impact on public health and environmental quality. Extensive research and data has been produced across many scientific disciplines describing a broad array of factors responsible for impaired environmental quality and public health. An increase in collaboration, interdisciplinary research and the efficient transfer and sharing of this environmental and health data will be required to resolve these complex problems. This project creates a digital library for urban environmental data focused on the St. Clair watershed, integrating regional air, water and public health databases. This digital library will be used for complex, multi‐faceted investigations by researchers seeking data for use in a broad range of investigations, including water quality analysis, regional environmental health research and economic development analysis. The digital library will also provide the capability for a dynamic analysis of pollution and ecosystem health within the context of changing hydrological and meteorological measurements. Incorporation of hydrological and meteorological data will enable the examination of the effects of weather, seasonal changes, and long‐term changes in regional climate on pollution and ecosystem health. Applications for enhanced collaboration between scientific disciplines, stakeholders, decision makers and educators will be developed using scientific methods and engineering technology. When fully developed, the digital library will provide a long‐term historical data record and analytical capabilities that will be needed by society to maintain, preserve and improve the St. Clair watershed ecosystem and associated urban environment, and to adapt to regional climatic changes.

The long-term goal of this project is to create a digital library for urban environmental data focused on the St Clair watershed. The digital library will be used for water quality analysis, regional environmental health research and economic development analysis. The digital library will also provide the capability for a dynamic analysis of pollution and ecosystem health within the context of changing hydrological and meteorological measurements. Incorporation of hydrological and meteorological data will enable the examination of the effects of weather, seasonal changes, and long‐term changes in regional climate on pollution and ecosystem health.

The short-term objective is to integrate regional air, water and public health databases into the digital library and develop applications for enhanced collaboration between scientific disciplines and non-science based stakeholders (e.g., the general public) by apply existing scientific methods and engineering technology. Once external funding is acquired, the capabilities of the digital library will not only serve as a long‐term resource for environmental research, but also a resource for decision makers on environmental policy, a means for assessing the efficiency and timeliness of community warnings and alerts, an educational resource for the university community and for K to 12 schools, and a means for collaboration with other research universities (e.g., University Research Corridor). Finally, a comprehensive digital library would provide both the long‐ term historical data record and the analytical capabilities that will be needed by society to maintain, preserve and improve the St Clair watershed ecosystem and associated urban environment, and to adapt to regional climatic changes.

Click here to read the full document

Investigators: Dr. Carol Miller​​​


Authentication of tuna species in canned fish products

Accurate identification of the contents of canned products is needed for their correct labeling and assignment of value; however, the canning process for tuna and related species destroys many of the ordinary markers of species identity. We demonstrated that despite the occurrence of considerable DNA degradation in the canning process, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) followed by sequencing or restriction site analysis can be used to identify tuna species and to differentiate them from their close relatives (specifically from bonito and mackerel). Degenerate primers for amplifying phylogenetically informative regions of the mitochondrial cycochrome b gene in degraded DNA were demonstrated, and appropriate restriction enzymes for a less expensive method of distinguishing the species were identified.

Investigators: Dr. Jeffrey Ram


Watershed management

Great Lakes Coastal Marshland Restoration

Working with multiple partners including Macomb County, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Clinton River Watershed Council, Oakland University, ASTI Environmental and others we are collaboratively working together to restore 486 acres of Great Lakes marsh infested with the invasive plant species, Phragmites australis. We conducted pre-restoration baseline monitoring and evaluated post-restoration biota recovery. In addition to monitoring we are also evaluating ecosystem functional measures and examining how Phragmites coverage impacts the native seed bank. This project is funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Investigators: Dr. Donna Kashian


A Critical Evaluation of Bridge Scour for Michigan-Specific Conditions

Bridge scour is of significant concern in the United States, causing approximately 60 percent of all U.S. highway bridge failures. In 1993 alone, more than 2500 bridges were destroyed or severely damaged due to scour caused by severe flooding. The cumulative effect of pier scour and channel degradation has resulted in both bridge collapse and loss of human life. In addition to these unacceptable direct impacts, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that indirect costs to the public and local business because of long detours and lost production are five times greater than the direct costs of bridge repair. Solutions to the problem are complicated by the fact that bridge scour is a result of dynamic sediment transport processes, and measurements taken at a single point in time may not sufficiently document factors such as maximum scour depth that can result in bridge failure. Our project, A Critical Evaluation of Bridge Scour for Michigan-Specific Conditions, conducted continuous scour monitoring at two sites selected for their proximity to USGS-NWIS monitoring locations, providing comparisons of the measured scour data with respective flow conditions. In addition, episodic or event-based monitoring of scour was performed at twelve locations over a two year period.

Click Here for a power point presentation.

Investigators: Dr. Carol Miller Partners: Michigan Department of Transportation


Petroleum Coke in the Urban Environment: A Review of Potential Health Effects.

Petroleum coke, or petcoke, is a granular coal-like industrial by-product that is separated during the refinement of heavy crude oil. Recently, the processing of material from Canadian oil sands in U.S. refineries has led to the appearance of large petcoke piles adjacent to urban communities in Detroit and Chicago. The purpose of this literature review is to assess what is known about the effects of petcoke exposure on human health. Toxicological studies in animals indicate that dermal or inhalation petcoke exposure does not lead to a significant risk for cancer development or reproductive and developmental effects. However, pulmonary inflammation was observed in long-term inhalation exposure studies. Epidemiological studies in coke oven workers have shown increased risk for cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, but these studies are confounded by multiple industrial exposures, most notably to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are generated during petcoke production. The main threat to urban populations in the vicinity of petcoke piles is most likely fugitive dust emissions in the form of fine particulate matter. More research is required to determine whether petcoke fine particulate matter causes or exacerbates disease, either alone or in conjunction with other environmental contaminants.

Link to the article published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health(2015).

Investigators: Nick Schroeck, Shawn McElmurry


Water Transmission

In September 2008, engineers at Wayne State University, in partnership with Tucker, Young, Jackson, Tull, Inc. and the University of Dayton, were awarded a grant from the Great Lakes Protection Fund to reduce the amount of pollutants entering the Great Lakes as the result of energy consumed by water utilities. The project aims to develop software that will integrate with existing water utility operating systems to achieve this energy reduction by improving pumping efficiency throughout entire water systems. Previously, collaborator on this project have developed a computer program and guidelines for pump optimization that allows SCC operators to reliably meet system demands while minimizing energy consumption. This project will now extend the usefulness of this technology to whole water delivery systems in order to realize the benefits of system-wide pumping optimization.Click here to view the official website


Open Channel Design - Integrated Assessment

This Integrated Assessment will examine how multi-stage channel design — a type of drainage that mimics self-sustaining, natural systems and has been shown to improve long-term drain stability and water quality — could be applied in Michigan. The project will focus on the Middle Branch and North Branch of the Clinton River in Macomb County. Macomb County has already developed the first open channel design criteria (standards for planning, installation and maintenance) in Michigan, that incorporates a multi-staged design approach to more closely resemble a natural system.

The research team will develop design guidelines, create practical tools and build partnerships to help people better address county drain design. Researchers will work closely with stakeholders to examine the issue from many perspectives, identify challenges and evaluate feasible solutions. By soliciting stakeholder input, the tools will be understood and as practical as possible. All guidance and tools developed will be accessible online.

The research team will also evaluate other options for channel design that may be more appropriate for local soil and geologic and hydrologic conditions. The team will compile and summarize the relevant data and studies of existing two-stage channels, including a cost-benefit analysis of conventional and more natural ditch designs.

Find out more here


Watershed policy

Hydraulic Fracturing and Protection of Freshwater Resources in the Great Lakes State

Hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking," is a commonly used oil and natural gas well stimulation process used to maximize extraction. Fracking, in its most basic sense, involves drilling very deep wells into the earth and filling the chasm with a mixture of water, sand, and various chemicals. The fracking fluid mixture, when pumped in at the required pressures, causes layers of rock to crack and fill with particles and lubricants from the fluid, creating fissures within the rock that allow natural gas to escape for extraction. This process has revolutionized the oil and natural gas energy industry when combined with horizontal drilling techniques, unlocking decades of fuel that was once nearly unattainable.

Link to the article published in Vol. 24 Indiana International & Comparative Law Review 113 (2014).

Investigators: Nick Schroeck


Water Regulation

"What is a Pond? Michigan Court of Appeals Interprets 'Waters of the State' Under Michigan Law." summarizes a recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision holding that DEQ incorrectly claimed that a 35 acre pond used to receive a township’s treated wastewater Is a “water of the State” under Part 31 of NREPA. The article goes beyond the holding to remind us that even though a water feature may not be a “water of the United States” under the federal Clean Water Act and EPA’s recently promulgated “Clean Water Rule,” it may nonetheless be subject to regulation by state authorities. The article was published in the Spring-Summer edition of theMichigan Environmental Law Journal.

Link to article published in the Michigan Environmental Law Journal Vol. 33, No. 3, Spring-Summer 2015, Issue 99

Investigators: Nick Schroeck (with law student Justin Sterk)


Modern Water Law: Private Property, Public Rights, and Environmental Protections

Modern Water Law: Private Property, Public Rights, and Environmental Protection provides a comprehensive text to study the range of legal issues and doctrines that affect water resources in the United States. The field of water law has evolved considerably in recent decades, expanding well beyond historic common-law doctrines of riparian reasonable use and prior appropriation. Modern Water Law thus offers a new conceptual approach to the field of water law as an integration of (1) private property (the common-law doctrines for riparian reasonable use and prior appropriation, as well as groundwater rights and the statutory schemes for administering water use rights), (2) public rights (navigation, the public trust doctrine, federal reserved rights, and interstate water management), and (3) environmental protections (the energy-water nexus, water pollution, and endangered species conflicts). The modern practice of water law requires attorneys to understand the interactions between different legal doctrines and regimes and how potential conflicts among them can be resolved in practice. Modern Water Law will prepare students and practitioners for the challenges of 21st century water law.

Link to blog entry about Modern Water Law: Private Property, Public Rights, and Environmental Protections published by Foundation Press, 2013 with Robert W. Adler and Robin K. Craig.

Investigators: Noah Hall