The Green Bay Saga: Research for Management of a Freshwater Estuary

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Review of 40 years of research on the ecosystem of Green Bay, Lake Michigan, USA; prepared primarily by HJ "Bud" Harris, emeritus professor of ecoystems analysis, Univ of Wisconsin-Green Bay, with …

Review of 40 years of research on the ecosystem of Green Bay, Lake Michigan, USA; prepared primarily by HJ "Bud" Harris, emeritus professor of ecoystems analysis, Univ of Wisconsin-Green Bay, with help from Paul A. Wozniak, Fox River historian

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  • Draft of June 11 2009
  • (center) Edmund S. Muskie served as a U.S. Senator from 1959 to 1980. During his 22 years in Congress, Muskie was a member on the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, and the Governmental Affairs Committee. In addition, he chaired the Senate Committee on the Budget, the Air and Water Pollution Subcommittee (later known as the Environmental Pollution Subcommittee), and the Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee. He was active in writing new laws, including the early environmental protection legislation of 1963 and 1966, and sponsorship of numerous acts, including the Intergovernmental Relations Act (1959), the Model Cities Act (1966), the Clean Air Act (1970), the Clean Water Act (1972), and the Budget Reform Act (1974). Muskie’s legislative record is long, complex, and vitally important to understanding his historical contributions to environmentalism, budgetary reform, fiscal responsibility, and myriad other aspects of 20th century politics in the United States.
  • 14 separate projects spanning the features of the Bay, most observational/descriptive.
  • Patterson 1980 describes start of modeling on river’s ability to absorb BODManhattan College, a Catholic school in Bronx, developed the QUAL models.
  • Bay of Quinty rehab didn’t have research basis of Green Bay; dropped bec of comparability problems and replaced with Erie’s Long PointRehabilitating Great Lakes Ecosystems, TechReport37, 1979, GLFC – can we rehabilitate large scale ecosystems like the Great Lakes?Green Bay in the Future-A Rehabilitative Prospectus, ed by Harris, Talhelm, Magnuson, Forbes TechReport28, GLFC was test of affirmative answer to aboveGet logos, graphic of humanfigureSystems dynamics - Magnuson, Harris, Wenger Brought in other universities, including Canadian instituions
  • Sept 1978 Each task force had 10-15 industry, academic, govt repsInformally referred to as “The Blueprint” WIS-SG-78-234
  • Scan, paste cover of Green Bay in the Future booklet from GLFCDriving Q: What will get people&institutions to act?“Green Bay in the Future-A Rehabilitative Prospectus” (1982)1979-81 workshops
  • GLERRScan, paste systems diagram from booklet page15
  • Buzz B asks SG for help, proposal by Bud rejected by SG as offending stakeholders, too management oriented. But DNR Wise wanted management orientation. Technical Advisory Committee of RAPLetter Llewellyn, DNR“Ecosystem Rehab: Shift toward different paradigm, Papers from Estuarine Management Practices Symposium 1985, Natl SeaGrant College Prgm, Baton Rouge LAJake Rose approached for funds for RAP Key Actions workshop and documentThe GB RAP Summary PUBL WR 243-91
  • Remedial Action Plan (RAP)Based on prior work for GLFC and GLERROutput Jan87 Key Actions doc by GBRAP Citizens Advisory Committee
  • Remedial Action Plan (RAP)Based on prior work for GLFC and GLERROutput Jan87 Key Actions doc by GBRAP Citizens Advisory Committee
  • Done in 1991 and used in RAP Update, but published later as A Method for Assessing…Harris, Wenger, Harris & Devault, Env Risk Assmt 1994 18(2):295-306


  • 1. The Green Bay SagaResearch for Management of a Freshwater Estuary
    Emeritus Professor H.J. “Bud” Harris
    University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
    & Paul A. Wozniak-river historian
  • 2. GREEN BAY
    Where in the world is Green Bay, Wisconsin?
  • 3. Green Bay drainage basin
    • Inputs 25% of Lake Michigan’s water
    • 4. 40,500 sq km
    • 5. Land uses: Forest & agriculture
    • 6. Six major rivers
  • Green Bay waters of Lake Michigan
    Length:190 km
    Width: 37 km
    Area: 4,250 sq km
    Depth: 20 meters
    Deepest = 53 meters
    Chemistry: steep N-S trophic gradient
    Biology: High primary and secondary production
    60% of Lake Michigan’s commercial catch
  • 7. Runoff varies with land use
    Sub-basin of Lower Fox River
  • Timeline of Environmental Decline and Recovery for the Fox River/Green Bay
    Peak #paper mills 1870
    Chemical Era
    post 1945
    1970s to Present
    1980s to Present
    Fur Era
    Fish Era
    1700’s to 1800’s
    Mgt of NonPoint Source Pollution
    Lumber Era
    PCB Remediation and Point Source Control
    1800’s to 1900’s
    Max Cut 1870
    Industrial and Agricultural Era
    Environmental Decline
    Environmental Recovery
    Chemical Era
    BOD Waste Load Allocation
  • 11. 1920’s
    Citizen groups organize for changes after massive fish kills and river stink increases
    1st statewide water pollution survey of major rivers in1925
    1927 report published
    River ice harvest ends due to gross filth
    But whose pollution is to blame? Canneries, creameries, foundries?
  • 12. 1927:What was the cause of the fish kills? Low dissolved oxygen
  • 13.
  • 14. 1930s
    1938 water quality study of Green Bay reported 90% of BOD loading from pulp-paper mills
    Blue-green algae linked to organic and nutrient discharge of Fox River
    But which nutrients?
  • 15. Blue-green algae Aphanizomenon (# per L @ 6ft)
    Green Bay 1938-39
  • 16. 1940’s/1950’s
    Freshwater “dead zone” persists
    Commercial fisheries decline
    Green Bay (lake herring)
    Lake Michigan (lake trout)
    Poor water quality closes city swimming beach in Green Bay permanently
    Little statutory authority to respond to deteriorating conditions!!!
  • 17. Benthic surveys: Hexagenia
    1938 : 16 of 51 stations
    1952 : 1 of 27 stations (Surber & Cooley)
    1956 : 1 of 99 stations (Balch, industry-state survey)
    1967 : 0 of 73stations (Howmiller & Beaton)
  • 18. Policymaking and enforcement
    1972 – US Clean Water Act Amendments
    1972 –Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between US-Canada
    1974 – International Joint Commission names Green Bay a problem spot on Great Lakes
    Senator Muskie 1972
  • 19. Major questions of 1970-7314 Sea Grant projects on Bay, most ‘observational’
    “Is the patient already dead?”
    What are the nutrient inputs to Bay?
    What are the levels of Nitrogen-fixation in Bay and are they related to algal blooms?
    Are there organic chemicals with unknown but potentially dangerous impacts?
    Do people who use the bay know about the pollution? Do swimmer decisions on where to swim correlate with health risk data?
    Does the local economy really need a port for large ships (with associated dredging)?
  • 20. Chemical correlates of water mass movement
    Modlin & Beaton, 1970
    Arnsbach & Ragotzkie, 1970
    Conductivity distribution
  • 21. 1970’s: Early modeling in anticipation of new rules
    Late 60s: WI begins modeling effort
    BOD absorption Fox River only
    First EPA model tried but found inappropriate for Fox River
    1973-74: Data collection to calibrate QUAL models of (O’Connor, Manhattan College, NYC)
    Fox River BOD wasteload allocation for permits
  • 22. 1970s: Paper industry & wastewater treatment plants install equipment
  • 23. Average Total Discharge of BOD Material to the Lower Fox River and Summer DO Averaged from 8 Sites Across the Lower Bay
    From State of the Bay Report, 1990
  • 24. Year Species First Caught in Lamprey Trap at the De Pere Dam
  • 25. Parallel efforts 1978-86:research & planning for implementation
    GLERR : Great Lakes Ecosystem Rehabilitation & Restoration
    ecosystem research
    Understanding structure & function of “ecosystems green”
    Holistic approach
    Identify critical stressors
    Biophysical dimensions
    Socioeconomic context
  • 26. 1978 GB Research Workshop”blueprint” to guide research agenda for 80s
    Trophic interactions: Paul Sager
    Environmental Contaminants & Human Health: Anders Andren
    Water Movement & Mass Transport: Clifford Mortimer
    Influences of Land Use: Daniel Bromly
    Water Use Implications: Jack Day
    “Green Bay Research Workshop Proceedings” WIS-SG-78-234
  • 27. Blueprint-recommended research priorities* led to 25 studies over 8 yrs, $2.1 million
    Fisheries (stock assessment) 31%
    Physics/Chemistry (water mass movement, transport) 30%
    Trophic (interactions, dynamics) 18%
    Watersheds (runoff, land use-remote sensing) 7%
    Outreach 10%
    Socioeconomics (people issues) 4%
  • 28. Designing a plan for rehabilitation of Green Bay-Great Lakes Ecosystem Restoration & Rehabilitation
    Green Bay I - 1979
    Green Bay II - 1980
    Green Bay III - 1981
  • 29. Designing a plan for rehabilitation
    Green Bay I – 1979
    Ranking critical stressors
    Green Bay II – 1980
    Defining elements of rehabilitation
    Green Bay III – 1981
    Structuring the plan
    Digraph of Green Bay stressors
  • 30. Apply 8 yrs of research and GLERR experience
    1984: Wisconsin ordered by EPA to act on AOC’s via Remedial Action Plan (RAP)
    GB is 1 of 42 RAPs in Great Lakes
    WDNR asks UW-Sea Grant for help on RAP
    1986: Workshop integrates Sea Grant research and GLERR management experience for RAP
    Organized by WDNR’s Llewellyn & Harris
    Coupling Ecosystem Science with Management: A Great Lakes Perspective from Lake Michigan, USA. Environmental Management 11(5): 619-625
  • 31. 1986: GBMSD starts monitoring Bay
    16 sites, 9 parameters
  • 32. “Take action” = RAP
    Remedial Action Plan (RAP)
    Based on prior work for GLFC and GLERR
    1987 Key Actions identified by Technical Advisory Committees
    “RAP Update”1993
  • 33. RAP High Priority Key Actions, 1987
    Eliminate Toxicity of Industrial and Municipal Point Source Discharges
    Reduce Availability of Toxic Chemicals from Contaminated Sediments
    Reduce Phosphorus Inputs to the River and Bay from Point and Nonpoint Sources
    Reduce Input of Sediment and Suspended Solids
    Create an Institutional Structure for Plan Implementation
    Increase Public Awareness of, Participation In and Support for River and Bay Clean Up
  • 34. 1988: Rising concern about PCBs and other toxics
    PCB impact on birds supported by evidence
    Green Bay RAP first to be approved by IJC
    GB Mass Balance Study creates model with potential application to Great Lakes management
  • 35. Green Bay Mass Balance Study1989-90: USEPA & WDNR-sponsored
    Coupling river-to-bay transport models
    Planning 1988, data collection starts 1989
    Multi-agency, $13 million
    Assess feasibility of mass balance
    Calibrate model for Green Bay
    List PCB sources, rank priorities
    Improve methodology for mass balance studies
  • 36. Sources and Fate of Toxic SubstancesStart with inventory, leads to Green Bay Mass Balance Study
    • Victor Bierman, Univ of Notre Dame
    • 37. Joseph DePinto, Univ of Buffalo
    • 38. Thomas Young, Clarkson University
    • 39. Paul Rogers, Limno-Tech, Inc.
    Role of Mass Balance Modeling in Research and Management of Toxic Chemicals in the Great Lakes: The Green Bay Mass Balance Study, Great Lakes Research Review, July 1994
  • 40. Ecological Risk Assessment 1991 – Ranking Stressors on GB Ecosystem Values and Services
  • 41. 1999: Four action prioritiespre-climate change
    Remediate contaminated sediments
    Reduce nutrients and solids loading
    Protect wetlands & ecological services
    Prevent further exotic species introduction
  • 42. 2003: Lower Fox River Watershed Monitoring Program
    • Multi-year water monitoring & assessment program
    • 43. Established in 2003
    • 44. Connects university and agency scientists with teachers and their students
  • March Snowmelt
    2004: Loads are seasonal and event driven
    Loads are seasonal and event driven.
    During dry years, 45-65% of annual load occurred in March.
  • 45. 2007: Future basin-wide load reduction scenarios
    built on SWAT model supported by robust monitoring.
    Laura Blake and Sandra Brown, The Cadmus Group, Inc., and others, 2007.
  • 46. How has research informed management?