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Students Win Poster Award for Research
Helping DNR Protect Springs in Wisconsin

RELEASED: March 27, 2007

UW-Eau Claire students working with water samples
UW-Eau Claire students Jeremy Hinke and Mike Molnar collect water samples for a DNR research project. (Contributed photo)

EAU CLAIRE — Two University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire seniors won Best Undergrad Poster awards at the Wisconsin Groundwater Association annual meeting.

Michael Molnar, Menomonie, and Jeremy Hinke, Phillips, won for their research poster titled "Estimating Recharge Areas for Large Springs in St. Croix County." Their project, funded by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, details the results of work begun by other UW-Eau Claire students in 2005 and completed by Molnar and Hinke in 2006.

According to Molnar, the impetus for the research was recent Wisconsin legislation, Act 310, which notes that all water wells, and especially high-capacity wells, have the potential to impact surface water and groundwater quantity and quality. Molnar said the DNR is concerned that urban sprawl and the resulting water table drawdown from high-capacity wells established in rapidly growing parts of the state have the potential to hasten the drying up of springs, which would negatively impact trout and other aquatic life.

To assist the DNR, the students began by identifying large springs (defined as having discharge rates greater than 1 cubic foot per second) in St. Croix County. The students performed basic water sampling analysis and collected water samples for chemical and age dating analysis, which helped them model groundwater flow and provide information for determination of recharge areas. Their results were provided to local agencies to help with future regulation of high-capacity well installations.

"The springs were located via help from local and regional agencies, as well as from maps and landowners," Molnar said, noting that the work was undertaken in St. Croix County because of that county's rapid population growth and its limited data about spring locations.

Their research was considered the preliminary step in implementation of Wisconsin Act 310, and similar campaigns may be needed in other areas of the state where documentation of spring locations and recharge areas is poor, Molnar said.

Assistant professor of geology Katherine Grote was the students' research mentor.

-30-

BC/NW

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