3rd UF Water Institute Symposium

The 3rd UF Water Institute Symposium once again provided two exciting days of interaction, networking and learning for diverse participants from multiple perspectives (scientists, engineers, academics, government and non-governmental organizations, policy makers, water managers, industry and utility representatives, lawyers, students and the public). This Water Institute flagship event unites a shared interest in sustaining our water resources for the future.   The 2012 Water Institute Symposium gathered presenters from around the country to focus on issues surrounding “Nutrient Dynamics, Policy and Management in Watersheds.”  Over 150 contributed oral and poster presentations and several panel discussions addressed new research, education, policy and technology developments in six interdisciplinary areas:

Understanding natural, anthropogenic and legacy sources of nutrients

This theme will focus on the various sources of nutrients within a watershed that could contribute to downstream water quality issues. These include potential anthropogenic sources that are actively being applied such as landscape and agricultural fertilizers, domesticated animal waste and use of reclaimed water. They also include natural sources of nutrients, specifically phosphorus, which is geologically abundant in several regions of Florida and can result in a naturally elevated trophic state of rivers and lakes in these regions. This theme will also address the issue of legacy nutrient storages within a watershed, which were applied historically and have accumulated in the biomass, sediment and soils. Quantifying and discriminating between new and legacy sources of nutrients poses a significant challenge with regard to both how these loads should be managed and who is responsible for their management. Examples of topics to be explored in this theme include:

Recognizing natural nutrient sources when determining Total Maximum Daily Loads and Numeric Nutrient Criteria
Quantifying nutrient loads associated with use of reclaimed water
Defining and quantifying legacy nutrients
Recognizing and quantifying natural sources of phosphorus that are liberated due to anthropogenic water and land use changes
Using stable isotopes to differentiate nutrient sources
Budget and simulation models: Synthesis of existing nutrient sources and downstream effects in Florida ecosystems

Nutrient dynamics and enrichment impacts in aquatic ecosystems

This theme highlights current understanding of the biogeochemistry of important water bodies, how the myriad ecosystems interact physically and biologically, and how to best plan for sustainable aquatic ecosystems in Florida’s future. Florida is host to a wide range of aquatic ecosystems that are responding to a changing array of nutrient and hydrologic drivers and stressors. At local and regional scales, altered land use and water/nutrient management affects the nutrient status of aquatic ecosystems, directly influencing the ecological structure and function of those systems. Relevant topics include:

Florida ecosystems: Understanding N, P, and S biogeochemical dynamics within springs, streams, lakes, wetlands, and estuaries/coasts
Ecosystem interactions: Pathways and transformations of nutrients along freshwater – estuarine gradients
Hydrologic influence: Effects of changes in upstream hydrologic modifications and nutrient storages on receiving water bodies
Stream and spring assessments: Challenges of nutrient considerations in determining downstream protection
Wetland restoration: Water quality constraints on increasing water flows in both large- and small- scale wetland systems
Budget and simulation models: Synthesis of existing and future nutrient fluxes within and among Florida ecosystems
Case studies of lessons learned in restoring Florida ecosystems

Efficacy of nutrient source control strategies

This theme focuses on defining, measuring, interpreting and understanding the efficacy of on-site and regional nutrient source control strategies and technologies. Presentations will address science and implementation topics associated with urban and agricultural strategies for water quality protection and restoration. The following are examples of relevant topical areas that will be explored in the context of the goal of achieving maximum measureable reduction of nutrient loading in Florida’s watersheds:

Management and design tools for maximizing source control in urban landscapes
Role of Low Impact Development in nutrient control
Evaluation of Florida-Friendly Landscaping water quality impacts
Evaluation of efficacy of structural and non-structural BMPs
Effectiveness of on-farm BMPs vs. regional treatment systems
Nutrient budgets and water budgets as management tools
BMP monitoring and verification protocols and timeframes
Modeling tools to assess farm-level and watershed level effectiveness of BMPs
Allocating nutrient loads among urban, agricultural, and municipal interests
Case studies of lessons learned from 15 years of BMP development, implementation and assessment

Innovative biological, physical and chemical nutrient reduction and recovery technologies

This theme will explore innovative nutrient reduction and recovery technologies, and their implementation considering laboratory-scale, field-scale, and watershed-scale investigations. Nutrient reduction technologies are needed for treatment and management of domestic and industrial wastewater, urban and suburban stormwater, and agricultural runoff. In addition, reduction technologies are being used to remediate nutrient-contaminated water and sediment in natural ecosystems. Examples of biological, physical, and chemical technologies that are used for nutrient reduction include treatment wetlands, algae scrubbers, precipitation, adsorption, and coagulation. Topics listed below as well as additional nutrient reduction and recovery technologies will be considered in this theme:

Wastewater treatment technologies to achieve ultra-low nutrient levels
Coupled biological and physical-chemical processes for nutrient reduction
Use of waste byproduct materials as low-cost adsorbents for nutrients
Innovative use of wetland treatment technologies
Floating island treatment systems for in situ remediation of nutrients
Engineered materials for selective removal and recovery of nutrients
Advanced oxidation of recalcitrant nutrients to a form more readily removable
Comparison of nutrient reduction efficiency for phosphorus and nitrogen
Scale-up and field testing of reduction and recovery technologies
Applications of modeling innovative reduction and recovery technologies
Case studies of innovative reduction and recovery technologies

Social, behavioral, and economic aspects of nutrient management

This theme focuses on defining, measuring, interpreting and understanding the social, behavioral and economic (costs, benefits, and tradeoffs) aspects of nutrient management strategies. To be efficient, nutrient management strategies should be designed to account for attitudes, preferences, and water and nutrient use behaviors of watershed stakeholders. To facilitate public understanding and acceptance of nutrient management techniques, it is necessary to identify social, cultural, and economic factors that influence water and nutrient use of residential households, agricultural producers, utility managers, natural resources and environmental groups, recreational interests, and other watershed stakeholders. Recognizing those factors provides tools to affect attitudes and practices, and to select strategies that will be acceptable to citizens. In this theme, social and behavioral responses as well as economic implications that will be explored in the context of optimizing the measureable reduction of nutrient loading in Florida’s watersheds. The following are examples of relevant topical areas:

Defining social dimensions of efficacy, performance, and capacity for improvement targets for best management practices
Balancing perceived competing goals for water quality, landscape health and landscape aesthetics
Evaluation of Florida-Friendly Landscaping and its influence on water quality impacts
Farmers’ willingness to implement agricultural best management practices
Keeping the pristine waters clean: nutrient management strategies for forested lands
Public perceptions of water quality issues and nutrient management strategies for groundwater, surface water, and coastal waters
Fertilizer ordinances, public education, and price-based best management practices
Information dissemination, informal education, social marketing efforts
Market and non-market values of water quality/resources and ecosystem services
Cost-benefit analyses of best management practices and other nutrient management strategies
Total maximum daily loads, basin management action plans, remedial action plans, and other management programs: who pays, who benefits, when, and how?

Governance approaches to nutrient management

Governance approaches to nutrient management include legal, policy, organizational, and planning aspects. These interrelated approaches determine how and where efforts to improve water quality are targeted, and how effective these efforts and the associated economic investments made by society are in improving and protecting water quality. There are many recent developments in governance at local, regional, state, national, and international levels. At all levels there are debates about the appropriate roles of government and the private and civic sectors, whose interests should be represented in policies, and what scientific interpretation to accept. Research and communication of governance approaches are critical to ensure their desired outcomes and adoption in other places (or not), as well as public deliberation about their benefits and costs. The following list indicates the types of topics that would be relevant to this theme:

Decision making and planning processes, and resulting plans, for nutrient management from project to watershed scales
Federal and state policy making, implementation, and enforcement of nutrient management rules and programs
Analyses of nutrient management policies and programs, including cost-benefit analysis of alternative policy options
Measuring economic benefits associated with water quality improvement and protection at watershed, regional, and state levels
Judicial cases and legal precedent for nutrient management or related issues
The politics of nutrient management, and the integration of nutrient science and technology with policy making and public outreach
Public-private partnerships to promote the use of best management practices (BMPs) and technological innovation for nutrient management
Adaptive management and governance for nutrient management
Changing conceptions of watershed or ecosystem restoration goals, including application of the concepts of sustainability and resilience
The integration of nutrient management with other societal goals and practices such as water supply planning and growth management

For details on the 3rd UF Water Institute Symposium program, presentations and participants, check out the links below:

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