UW Stout receives grant to study green lakes - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UW Stout receives grant to study green lakes

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Menomonie, Wis. (WQOW) - Thoughts of summer on the lake are already popping up in Menomonie but not for the reason you might think.  Menomonie has been plagued by two big problems for years: the sights and smells of Lake Menomin and Tainter Lake.  Now, a federal grant worth more than a quarter million dollars may help tackle those problems

"Unlike other universities, this is one that's very committed to innovative research," Nels Paulson, assistant professor of sociology and a program director says.

$282,000: that is how much UW-Stout received from a federal grant.

"The main reason behind the research is study the blue-green algae bloom and how to fix it," Paulson says.

Lake Menomin and Tainter Lake have been green for years.

"It's a huge problem for economic reasons but also for social-community building reasons, recreational reasons, It's toxic and it smells," Paulson says.

10 students from around the U.S. and five university departments, including biology and social science, are teaming up to tackle the research.

"It's a long-term process to clean up algae-infested waters because it's a long-term thing to build up in the first place," Paulson says.

Menomonie has tried different approaches in the past, but has had little success.  Last December, a dredge was voted down by the city council.

"We intend to work really closely with those policy makers so immediately, not necessarily in five years when our research gets published, but immediately so our research can inform action," Paulson says.

"We need to keep an open mind on this one and we need to think out of the box a little bit because it's a major problem. If you look out there now, there's over 100 ice fishing shacks on Lake Menomin and they're catching fish like crazy. If we could turn our water blue instead of green in the summer time, look at the boats and the tourism we would have in Menomonie," Randy Knaack, Menomonie Mayor says.

"That's the ultimate applied research goal, which isn't going to be solved by a $300,000 research grant entirely but we hope to make some huge strides," Paulson says.

Two students from UW-Stout will be part of the research.  The research will be done over three eight week periods starting in mid-June.

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