UW-Superior: LSRI and the Great Waters Research Collaborative

UW-Superior: LSRI and the Great Waters Research Collaborative

There is such a huge population of
people that depend on fresh water for drinking, number one, but also for
recreation, aesthetics, and it’s part of our quality of life. It’s in its name its
Superior. It’s cold, it’s deep, it’s oligotrophic which means it’s lacking
nutrients. Small small changes in the environment could potentially have big
impacts. LSRI is Lake Superior Research Institute. It’s an applied research center located at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Typically we focus on
water related issues from drinking water, well water, to larger projects like our
ballast water. I manage what’s called the Great Waters Research Collaborative. We
focus specifically on controlling the spread of invasive species and stopping
the introduction of invasive species via the ballast water. Ballast water is water
that’s used to maintain the stability, the trim, and the safety and integrity of
this ship before it goes to its next destination to pick up new cargo… it may
take on water to help maintain that stability. Once they get to that new
destination that water that’s taken up at that first port will have to be
offloaded and then they’ll discharge that water and any of the organisms
pathogens that are involved are in that water. Historically that was not
regulated. People didn’t know about the issue of the transport of organisms
in ballast water. The number one threat would be loss of biodiversity within the
Great Lakes ecosystem. Populations that we depend on not just for functioning of
the ecosystem itself, but for economic reasons, as well. The ones that people
think of most commonly the zebra mussel because that has affected all of the
Great Lakes and now is all over in inland lakes, as well. The land-based ballast
water testing facility at Montreal Pier in Superior is the only one on the Great
Lakes. There are other land-based test facilities and they are located
in the fjords of Norway and the west coast of the United States, but the
populations of organisms and the water quality conditions are extremely
different. This facility will allow us to install treatment technologies to help
remove these unwanted organisms at a large scale. It also allows us to test
and verify and vet these treatment systems before they’re installed on a
ship. Students are very important for
everything that we do. I mainly culture organisms in order to ensure their
survival for the different tests that are done here at LSRI. You’re
not gonna just not feed your dog one day like we have organisms and they have to
be fed and have to get taken care of so like we have to like learn how to do
that efficiently. The students that are employed through us gain hands-on
training. At the end of the day they are critical thinkers and problem solvers
that really take them into some interesting graduate study programs and
jobs. It’s called the Great Waters Research Collaborative and if we look at
the term collaborative collaborative really includes the maritime industry
the academic researchers the environmental organizations. It brings
them together under one umbrella in a non-threatening way to help tackle this
environmental problem, as well as stimulate and create the development of
treatment technologies that also results in jobs.

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