Research Working Groups

High Plains Water

Leaders: Randy Stotler and Jon Smith
Team Members: Don Whittemore, Geoff Bohling, Ed Russell, Christina Kerns, Greg Ludvigson, Belinda Sturm, Bruce McEnroe, Rosemary O’Leary

Sustainable Agriculture

Leaders: Chris Brown and Sara Gregg
Team Members: Ray Pierotti, Jude Kastens, Jorge Soberon, Gaisheng Liu, Brownie Wilson, Dana Peterson, Haiyang Chao, Belinda Sturm, Dietrich Earnhart, Kathy Porsch

Water Security: Geopolitics, Environmental Justice & Ethics

Team Leader: Rex Buchanan
Team Members: Gerald Mikkelson, Randy Stotler, Perry Alexander, Xingong Li, Shannon O’Lear, Kevin Dobbs, Jim Butler, Brent Metz, Antoinette (Anne) Egitt (she is a grad), Uma Outka, Steven Obenhaus, Dietrich Earnhart

Public Perception / Education / Changing Attitudes

Team Leader: Rex Buchanan
Team Members: Kate Meyer, Kari Cantarero, Diana Restrepo, Steven Duval, David Guth, May Tveit, Caroline Chaboo, Bryan Darby, Paul Outka, Dietrich Earnhart, Dennis Domer, Jeremy Shellhorn, Paola Sanguinetti, Stacey Swearingen-White, Celka Straughn

Surface Water Quality and Quantity

Team Leader: Steve Randtke
Team Members: Bryan Young, Frank DeNoyelles, David Parr, Mark Jakubauskas, Philip Gao, Ray Pierotti, Belinda Sturm, Stacey Swearingen-White, Christopher Rogers, Masato Ueshima, Don Huggins, Edward Peltier, Edward Martinko, Sarah Crawford-Parker, Jane Gibson, Andrew Short, Kathleen Nuckolls

Research Interests:

This working group’s primary thrust area is reservoir sedimentation. There are more than 130,000 reservoirs in Kansas greater than one-quarter of an acre in size. They are gradually filling up with sediment, some at much faster rates than others; and several major reservoirs are filling up at alarmingly high rates. Sediment buildup in reservoirs degrades water quality, commonly manifested in more frequent algal blooms, taste-and-odor episodes, and fish kills, and diminishes their capacity to serve their intended purposes, such as flood control, water supply, recreation, and fish and wildlife habitat.

The group seeks to address this problem, in concert with other individuals and organizations, by:
1) gaining greater understanding the actual sources of the sediment entering Kansas reservoirs (e.g., field runoff versus streambank erosion) and evaluating the effectiveness (and cost-effectiveness) of measures to prevent sediment from entering reservoirs; 2) examining the potential for reservoirs to be redesigned so they either retain less sediment or are less adversely impacted by sediment accumulation; 3) evaluating alternative dredging equipment and techniques, alternatives to dredging, and novel ways to cost-effectively utilize dredge spoils; 4) assessing the ecological impacts of sediment on reservoirs, and on streams upstream and downstream from reservoirs, and ways to minimize such impacts; 5) characterizing the changes that occur in the chemical and biological functioning of smaller reservoirs (e.g., farm ponds) as they age, and identifying the ecological and water quality implications of these changes; 6) gathering more data to characterize the condition of the overwhelming majority of Kansas reservoirs for which little or no data are currently available; 7) estimating the financial costs associated with current and alternative reservoir management strategies over the next 50 to 75 years, including the increased drinking water treatment costs incurred by municipalities as the quality of their source water deteriorates; and 8) determining how reservoir sedimentation, dredging, and disposition of dredge spoils affects mosquito populations and toxic algae, as related to public health.

This group began meeting in November, 2013. To date, the group has focused primarily on reservoir sedimentation, but one subgroup is currently considering applying for a grant to examine the ecological impacts of manufactured chemicals, another subgroup is evaluating potential sources of funding for novel techniques to assess watershed morphology, and the group as a whole is reviewing potential funding sources for opportunities to collaborate on other research topics of interest to some or all members of the group.

Other research topics of interest to various members of the group, which may eventually morph into defined thrust areas, include:
1) the impacts of nested impoundments and reservoirs within watersheds, under current and estimated climate conditions, on creation of artificial flow regimes, retention of sediment and organic matter, loss of floodplain/river connectivity, and emigration and immigration of species; 2) algal toxin occurrence, effects, and control; 3) drinking water treatment to control naturally occurring and synthetic chemical contaminants; 4) the impacts of nutrients, pharmaceuticals, and other contaminants on receiving streams, and treatment processes for removing these and other constituents from wastewater and stormwater; 5) water quality monitoring, particularly with respect to pathogens and identifying their sources using microbial source tracking techniques; 6) water quality modeling of agricultural runoff; 7) using statistical methods and GIS to analyze and improve hydrologic design methods; 8) applications of radar-based rainfall estimates in hydrologic modeling; and 9) developing sound engineering procedures to modify streams altered by human activity to better mimic natural channels.
Water Recovery / Reuse (Oil/gas waste water treatment plants)

Team Leader: Stephen Johnson
Team Members: Philip Gao, Jenn-Tai Liang, Karen Peltier, Reza Barati, Marie Alice L’Heureux, George Tsoflias, Dewey Barich, Steve Randtke, Edward Peltier, Belinda Sturm, Paola Sanguinetti, Dietrich Earnhart, Masato Ueshima, Laurence Weatherley, Steve Padget

Green Infrastructure

Team Leader: Jeff Severin
Team Members: Marie Alice L’Heureux, Dale Nimz, Kathleen Nuckolls, Ward Lyles, Steve Padget, Ted Peltier, Andrea Herstowski, Belinda Sturm, Bruce McEnroe, Chris Depcik, Paola Sanguinetti, Stacey Swearingen-White

Water / Energy Nexus

Team Leader: Nate Brunsell, Belinda Sturm
Team Members: Scott Campbell, Christopher Lyon, Ron Dougherty, Marie Alice L’Heureux, Dorothy Daley, Randy Stotler, Andrea Brookfield, Steve Randtke, Edward Peltier, Chris Depcik, Uma Outka

Climate Change (Hydroclimatology)

Team Leader: Sharon Billings
Team Members: Charlie Zheng, Cornelis van der Veen, Andy Bentley, Gwen Macpherson, Andrea Brookfield, Dave Mechem, Greg Ludvigson, Johannes Feddema, Leo Smith, Dave Fowle, Randy Stotler, Belinda Sturm

Surface Water Ecosystem Services

Team Leaders: Don Huggins and Jim Thorpe
Team Members: Bob Honea, Dean Kettle, Ray Pierotti, Paul Liechti, Christopher Rogers

Sensors and Instruments

Team Lead: Greg Ludvigson
Team Members: Haiyang Chao, Sue Lunte

Current and Upcoming Events

The 65th Annual KU Environmental Engineering Conference
The Kansas Union
Wednesday, April 22, 2015.

NovCare 2015: Novel Methods for Subsurface Characterization and Monitoring: From Theory to Practice
The Oread Hotel
May 19-21, 2015
More info

Past Events

Big 12 Universities Water Workshop
The Kansas Union
Tuesday, November 18th,
7 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Confronting The Continuing Depletion of the High Plains Aquifer in Western Kansas
The Oread
Monday, November 17th,
5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

59th Annual Midwest Groundwater Conference
Lawrence, KS Holiday Inn
October 1 and 2, 2014 
More Info

6th Annual Joint Conference of the Kansas Water Environment Federation (KWEA) 
Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka
August 26th, 27th and 28th, 2014
More info

Future of Water in Kansas
Kansas Room at the KU Union
Thursday, April 24, 2014
4-6 p.m.

Chi Zhang from Rutgers University​ seminar​
103 Lindley Hall
Friday, April 18th, 2014
11:00 am

The 64th Annual KU Environmental Engineering Conference
The Kansas Union ($30)
April 16, 2014
More information

Advances in Solute Transport from Electrical Geophysics
103 Lindley
Monday, April 14th, 2014
4:00 pm

Sedimentation Research Workshop
Capitol Plaza Hotel in Topeka ($25 fee)
Monday, April 14th, 2014
9:00 am to 4:10 pm

Geologic CO2 Sequestration in Low-Volume Basalt Reservoirs
Lindley 103
Thursday, April 10, 2014
4 p.m.

Characterizing the subglacial hydrology of Thwaites Glacier, West Antarctica Using Airborne Radar Sounding
Lindley 103
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
4 p.m.



If you are interested in joining the water research community or you have information that you would like to make available to the this community please contact either individual listed below:

Bob Rummer,
Director of Research Development,,
Tricia Bergman,
Director of Strategic Partnerships,,

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