water

N-Sink Online Tool

A New Way of Looking at Nitrogen Pollution

Extension educators from the Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR) and their partners have developed an online tool that helps land owners and land use decision makers better understand the direct connection between their land and nitrogen (N) pollution in coastal waters.

The tool, called “N-Sink,” is the result of a multi-year collaboration of CLEAR with the University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute and the EPA Atlantic Coastal Environmental Sciences Division Laboratory in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

map with a lot of red areas on it where there is nitrogen pollution
The particle tracking tool (shown here is the lower Pawcatuck River) allows users to click on a point within a watershed and, within seconds, generate its flow path to the coast and get an estimate of how much N (relatively speaking) will be delivered.

Nitrogen (N) pollution is a big threat to water quality, especially in coastal areas like Long Island Sound. Excess nutrients like N can fuel algal blooms that rob the waters of oxygen, directly harm marine life, and damage habitat. As a result, much attention has been paid to N pollution by the scientific community, including the development of many models designed to explore the transport and fate of N in our coastal watersheds. Most of these models focus on N “loadings,” i.e., estimating the amount of N being put into the system from sources like agricultural and lawn practices, septic systems, and atmospheric deposition from acid rain. Thus the focus is on what the total load of N is to the receiving water body, and what the impacts to that water body might be.

N-Sink uses a different approach that shifts the focus to the land within the watershed, rather than the receiving waters. The end result is a series of maps that help to provide specific geographic focus on which areas in the watershed are at the most risk for sending N to the coast (see maps, right). To do this, N-Sink uses particle tracking technology in concert with stream network data that includes information on nitrogen “sinks”—areas in the landscape that help to remove N from the system, like wetlands, riparian areas, lakes, and ponds. Depending on the sinks that it encounters along its journey to the coast, a unit of N could have very different fates, and thus very different impacts on water quality. For instance, a pound of N in one area of the watershed could be transported almost entirely to the coast, while another pound of N, applied just a short distance away, could take a different pathway through the stream network that results in the removal of a significant amount of N via sinks.

“One contribution of N-Sink is that it focuses on critical sink areas like wetlands and riparian corridors, which will hopefully lead to intensified efforts to protect or even restore these areas,”

says Extension Educator Chet Arnold. “Also, since the geographic specificity of N-Sink ties any location in the watershed to its likelihood of contributing N pollution, we think it can be useful both for land use planners when determining future uses, and land owners when discussing management practices on land already in use.”

The CLEAR team has created a state-of-the-art interactive N-Sink application where you can explore the maps for the entire Long Island Sound coast of Connecticut.

Article by Chet Arnold

Connecticut Institute of Water Resources 2021 Newsletter

bright pink sunset over lake:CIWR spring 2021 newsletter cover:

In a state like Connecticut where water seems plentiful, it is easy to take water for granted. As long as clean water comes out of the tap, water issues may not rise to the top of our list of concerns. Although we do have plentiful water for the most part, there are still many reasons to keep water in mind. Who wants to take their kids to the beach in the summer and find that the beach was closed due to high bacteria levels in the water? Or who wants to have their water heater fail due to high salt in their well? And how do we know that we will have enough water to supply the state if we have another severe drought, like we did just three years ago?

The Connecticut Institute of Water Resources (CT IWR) is part of a national network of 54 state and territory water institutes created by the Federal Water Resources Research Act of 1964. Our mission is focused on all aspects of Connecticut’s water resources, which includes use, preservation, and proper management. Why is this important? It means that CT IWR is addressing the most pressing water issues in our state. Every institute receives funds annually from the United States Geological Survey (around $120,000). A small amount is used for staff support, but the majority of funds are given out to support research on critical water issues every year through a competitive process. In addition to helping address these critical water issues, the grants help support training of undergraduate and graduate students to work in water-related fields, and provide support for early career water resources scientists.

The 2021 spring issue of the CT IWR newsletter includes an update on the well water testing campaign, information on the drought in Connecticut, water conservation tips, and a research spotlight.

 

Read the spring newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Spring2021CIWR

For more information on CT IWR visit https://ctiwr.uconn.edu/.

Fall is Here – Stay Hydrated

Written by UConn Dietetics Masters Student Shawn Lada

person drinking water backlit by sun
Drink water the day before and during physical activity or if heat is going to become a factor. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol, especially before strenuous exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Rhett Isbell)

We may be having cooler days now, but it is always important to stay hydrated. Keeping your body hydrated helps your heart, brain, muscles, and joints to stay healthy, along with keeping you regular and preventing urinary tract infections! During hotter days and summer months your body needs more fluid because you lose fluid when you sweat. Guess what? Sweating also occurs if you are working out in a gym in the winter! Even if you are not working out, your body loses fluid every day and you may not be drinking as much fluid as you need to rehydrate1.

Bottom line: Be aware of your fluid intake each day and adjust as necessary.

Depending on your activity level, from low activity like washing the car and walking the dog, to high/athletic activity like running a number of miles or lifting weights–and even depending on your gender–you may need around 90 ounces to 180 ounces of water a day. (That is up to almost 1 ½ gallons or 23 eight-oz cups!) The good news is you get around 20% of your fluid intake from fruits and vegetables2.  Do you know how water packed they are? Think of sweet juicy watermelon and crunchy apples! That’s water making that ‘crunch’!

The other 80% of your daily fluids come from water, milk, coffee, tea, and other beverages3. Other sources of fluids include foods like plain yogurt, broth-based soups, and popsicles.

For the rest of your hydration needs–and to get into a healthy routine–keep a reusable water bottle nearby, or a glass of water if you are at home, sipping as you go through the day4.

Remember: if you’re feeling thirsty, listen to your body and drink up! By the time you are thirsty, you are probably already on your way to becoming dehydrated. A way of knowing if you are dehydrated is to look at the color of your urine. It should be clear or pale yellow5. If it’s not, it’s time to drink some refreshing water!

Struggling to take a liking to plain drinking water? Try adding sliced fruits, like lemons and limes, and vegetables like cucumber slices, or even some mint!

Visit this page for more inspiring ways to flavor your water! https://communitynutrition.cahnr.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/3067/2020/08/Drink-Up-English-Spanish.pdf

Citations:

  1. French, K. A., & James, L. (2020, September 16). Water, Water Everywhere. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://extension.psu.edu/water-water-everywhere
  2. Appel, L. J., M.D, Baker, D. H., Ph.D., Bar-Or, O., M.D, Minaker, K. L., M.D., Morris, C., Jr., M.D, Resnick, L. M., M.D, . . . Whelton, P. K., M.D., M.Sc. (2004, February 11). Report Sets Dietary Intake Levels for Water, Salt, and Potassium To Maintain Health and Reduce Chronic Disease Risk. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2004/02/report-sets-dietary-intake-levels-for-water-salt-and-potassium-to-maintain-health-and-reduce-chronic-disease-risk
  3. French, K. A., & James, L. (2020, September 16). Water, Water Everywhere. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://extension.psu.edu/water-water-everywhere
  4. Water & Nutrition. (2016, October 05). Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/index.html
  5. French, K. A., & James, L. (2020, September 16). Water, Water Everywhere. Retrieved September 29, 2020, from https://extension.psu.edu/water-water-everywhere

This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

What to Eat (and Drink) Before, During, and After Exercise

Article by Mackenzie Lane, UConn Dietetics Student

Do you ever stop to think about taking a bite of a granola bar before your morning jog? Or force yourself to skip a mid-hike snack so you can feast at the next meal? Or think post-workout meals will make you gain weight?

No need to look any further for fact-based nutrition and exercise information! Here are tips to keep you healthy and help you reach your exercise goals.

Before Exercise: Fuel up!

Just as you put fuel in your car before you drive, you need to put fuel in your body before you exercise.” – Internationally-recognized sports nutritionist Nancy Clark, MS, RD, CSSD

Not eating anything before exercise can result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). This can cause fatigue, blurred vision, and lightheadedness – all factors that can make exercise less enjoyable and can lead to injuries. Working out is a mental game just as much as it is physical, so your BRAIN needs fuel to stay focused on your goals, too!

Fuel up two hours before exercise with:

  1. Water – plain water is best!
  2. Healthy carbohydrates – complex carbs like whole grain bread or your morning oatmeal are great choices. Simple carbs, like toaster pastries and sugar-sweetened cereals, are not good choices. These sugary foods will not keep your energy levels up for very long.

If you can’t fuel up a couple hours before exercising and you only have 5-10 minutes, eat a piece of fruit. Bananas are a great choice for quick digestion and energy!

TIP: Avoid eating too much fat or protein foods before exercise. They take longer to digest than carbohydrates, take oxygen and blood away from your muscles, can cause an upset stomach, or speed up digestion too quickly.

During: Water, water, and more water!

family playing soccerStay hydrated with small, frequent sips of water throughout your workout. This is true for high intensity workouts that last for several hours, as well as for low to moderate intensity exercise sessions.

If you are exercising for 1 hour or less: No need to fuel with food during your workout.

If you are exercising for longer than 1 hour: Fuel up with 50-100 calories of carbohydrates every half hour. Try pretzels, bananas, sports drinks, energy bars (more for high intensity endurance exercise).

TIP: If you can’t tolerate food during exercise, try sipping on a sports drink.

After Exercise: Refuel time!

This is when your muscles take protein from your blood to repair and build your muscles. It is also when your muscles best absorb carbohydrates from your blood to make up for your lower stores from exercise.

Aim to refuel 20-60 minutes after exercise with:

  1. Fluids – plain water, 100% fruit juice, and low-fat or skim milk are great options
    • Sports drinks are NOT recommended after exercise. Drink them during exercise lasting more than one hour.
  2. Carbohydrates – whole grain bread, crackers, cereals, pasta; brown rice; fruits and veggies
  3. Protein – combine protein foods with carbs such as peanut butter and whole grain toast, or low-fat cheese and turkey sandwich!

Keep in mind, each type of physical activity is different for each person’s body. These are general recommendations. Follow what works best for you and your exercise goals! Keep up the hard work and remember to fuel your body with nutritious foods!

This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

This institution is an equal opportunity provider.

 

Updates from the Connecticut Institute of Water Resources

cover of CT IWR spring newsletter

In a state like Connecticut where water seems plentiful, it is easy to take water for granted. As long as clean water comes out of the tap, water issues may not rise to the top of our list of concerns. Although we do have plentiful water for the most part, there are still many reasons to keep water in mind. Who wants to take their kids to the beach in the summer and find that the beach was closed due to high bacteria levels in the water? Or who wants to have their water heater fail due to high salt in their well? And how do we know that we will have enough water to supply the state if we have another severe drought, like we did just three years ago?

The Connecticut Institute of Water Resources (CT IWR) is part of a national network of 54 state and territory water institutes created by the Federal Water Resources Research Act of 1964. Our mission is focused on all aspects of Connecticut’s water resources, which includes use, preservation, and proper management. Why is this important? It means that CT IWR is addressing the most pressing water issues in our state. Every institute receives funds annually from the United States Geological Survey (around $120,000). A small amount is used for staff support, but the majority of funds are given out to support research on critical water issues every year through a competitive process. In addition to helping address these critical water issues, the grants help support training of undergraduate and graduate students to work in water-related fields, and provide support for early career water resources scientists.

The spring issue of the CT IWR newsletter includes an update on the well water testing campaign being conducted, the stand being taken in Connecticut against “forever chemicals,” and a research spotlight on forecasting the resilience of vernal pool ecosystems to climate-mediated hydrological disruption.

Read the spring newsletter at: https://bit.ly/CTIWR_Spring2020. For more information on CT IWR visit https://ctiwr.uconn.edu/.

Workshop: Production Agriculture – Back to Basics

back to basics flyerProduction Agriculture – BACK TO BASICS 

Farmers of all experience are encouraged to join the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, University of Connecticut, and the American Farmland Trust on Thursday, January 9, 2020 from 9 AM to 1 PM at the Tolland Agricultural Center in Vernon, Connecticut to hear the latest in IPM/biocontrol, soil management, and water programs.

Aaron Ristow of the American Farmland Trust will discuss his findings on the economic and environmental impacts of soil health practices. This is a free program and pesticide credits will be offered.

Register online now at http://bit.ly/2PNPDPC. For more information please contact Erin Windham at 860-713-2543 or Erin.Windham@ct.gov.

Water Testing in Connecticut

water being put into test tubes with a dropper in a water test situation

Water is part of everything that we do. We are frequently asked about water testing, septic system maintenance, and fertilizing lawns. The Connecticut Institute of Water Resources, a project with Natural Resources & the Environment, has resources for homeowners: http://ctiwr.uconn.edu/residential/

#AskUConnExtension

Break Your Bad Water Habits

faucet with running water
Photo: Kara Bonsack

When it comes to household water use, the average American uses about 82 gallons of water per day. To cut back on your water use around the house, an easy first step starts with fixing any leaks. (They can drip away gallons a day—in extreme cases, up to 90 gallons/day!) Also, try to reduce your water usage in everyday tasks, such as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, taking a shower instead of a bath, and watering your yard in the morning instead of the heat of the afternoon.  Finally, consider installingWaterSense’s water-efficient products (such as shower heads, toilets, and bathroom faucets) around your home to help your wallet and the environment.

Source: National Environmental Education Foundation

Staying Hydrated

woman and man drinking water from bottles
Photo: NEEF

With summer in full swing, how can you beat the heat, stay cool, and keep healthy when temperatures soar? Besides staying indoors in the air-conditioning and seeking shade when you’re outside, you need to stay hydrated. Why? Because dehydration can lead to heat stroke, a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention. Signs of heat stroke include hot, red, dry, or damp skin; fast, strong pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea; and confusion.

Drinking water tops the list of how to stay healthy in the heat. Although water intake varies depending on several factors (including age, size, gender, health, activity level, and weather), as a general rule of thumb, aim to drink 8-10 cups of water every day.

Need help boosting your water intake? Follow these hydration tips:

Drink up—but watch what you drink.
Drink plenty of fluids but avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, and high-sugar content as they might contribute to dehydration. Water should be your go-to drink because it’s calorie-free, low-cost, and readily available.

Take it with you.
Carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go—in the backyard, in the car, to work, to the gym, and running errands. Most public places (such as parks, malls, grocery stores, and office buildings) offer water fountains. Fill up your water bottle at stops throughout your day to ensure a cold drink of water is always at your fingertips.

Jazz up your H2O!
Tired of plain ol’ water? While you can purchase flavored water, you can save money and make your own. Try adding a slice of cucumber or a squeeze of lemon to your water. Or crush some raspberries in ice cube trays, fill with water, then freeze to add flavored cubes to your water glass. Like mojitos? Forget the alcohol but mix the other ingredients (lime juice, soda water, mint leaves, and just a sprinkle of sugar) for a refreshing twist.

Eat water-rich foods.
If the thought of consuming a half-gallon or more of water every day turns you off, think beyond the water glass. While you should drink plenty of water every day, you can also eat your way to hydration to supplement your water intake. (FYI: Only 20% of your water needs are met through food.) Choose high-water-content foods, such as peaches, grapes, oranges, melons, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, zucchini, spinach, and lettuce. Guess what else counts? Broth-based soups like chicken, beef, or vegetable broth. (Soups also provide a great way to get in a serving or two of vegetables.) You can even try a frozen fruit-juice popsicle! It all adds up over the course of a day.

Read more about extreme heat and your health and find additional water resources from the USDA.

Source: National Environmental Education Foundation

Conservation Planning

aerial view of Connecticut River and agricultural fieldsExcess fertilizer use and inefficient nutrient management strategies often are causes of water quality impairment in the United States. When excess nitrogen enters large water bodies it enhances algae growth and when that algae decomposes, hypoxic conditions—often called a “dead zone” occur.

Nutrients carried to the Long Island Sound have been linked to the seasonal hypoxic conditions in the Sound. There are many different sources of nutrients within the Long Island Sound Watershed, an area encompassing parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. These sources include municipalities, industry, agriculture, forests, residential lawns and septic systems.

The Long Island Sound Watershed Regional Conservation Partnership Program (LISW-RCPP) is a technical and financial assistance program that enables agricultural producers and forest landowners to install and maintain conservation practices. The goal of this program is to enhance natural resources and improve water quality. Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the LISW-RCPP supports efforts that find common ground among agricultural producers and conservation organizations in working towards the sustainable use of soil, water, and other natural resources.

Conservation practices can achieve multiple positive environmental outcomes, including water quality improvement. A widemap imagery for conservation planning for farms variety of practices exist including in-field (cover crops, reduced tillage, diversified rotation and nutrient management), and edge-of-field strategies (grassed water ways, buffer strips, riparian area, bioreactors and wetlands). These changes, in turn improves nitrogen retention during vulnerable leaching periods in the spring and fall. Conservation strategies also function to safeguard other ecosystem roles, such as carbon sequestration, animal refuge habitat, fisheries and recreation.

Prioritizing areas for nutrient management strategies requires an understanding of the spatial relationships between land use and impaired surface waterbodies. Our project utilizes a geographic information systems (GIS) based approach to under- stand and act upon these important spatial relationships. In part, we are identifying contemporary and historical hotspots of agricultural land use by using satellite- derived land use land cover (LULC) classifications initially developed by
the University of Connecticut’s Center for Land Use Education and Research (CLEAR). Spatial analyses depicting the proximity of agriculture to highly valued water resources (both surface and ground- water) serves as the foundational work that informs where efforts to protect and restore water quality will be most impactful to the greater Long Island Sound Watershed.

Our future work will pair spatial maps with modeled contemporary and historical nutrient loading patterns to expand regions of interest. Our goal is to provide education and tools that help farmers realize the benefits of sustainable agriculture with individual conservation plans tailored to their specific needs and objectives. Connecticut’s environment of diverse crops and farms offers unique opportunities and challenges. UConn Extension is offering soil tests and interpretations to assess each farm’s nutrient needs. We look forward to co-creating knowledge with farmers and developing soil health solutions for long-term production goals and resilient farms.

Article by Katherine Van Der Woude and Kevin Jackson