UW-Eau Claire receives funding for water-related research and training

Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 6:45 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Having clean, fresh water easily accessible is something we are used to in Wisconsin. Now, funding for student research at UW-Eau Claire will help to continue keeping our waters clean.

The university has received over $200,000 from the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, a statewide initiative to expand student interest in water-related jobs.

From watershed monitoring to an environmental science fair, Associate Professor of Geology & Environmental Science at UW-Eau Claire, Dr. Sarah Vitale, said the university will be involved in a total of five different projects.

“We have a field course that brings students from across UW system to come and do a freshwater studies field course in this part of the state. One of the projects that we had funded is for me to do training with K-12 teachers to teach them about groundwater and our local water systems. And so there is a big lack of water science, education, and especially in the context of of geology in grade schools,” Vitale said.

Dr. Vitale said the goal of these projects is to encourage students to go into the freshwater workforce.

“Not having enough water, having too much water with flooding, having contamination problems, even things like having like lead pipe systems still in place. Having people who can help solve some of these global issues is really important, not only for helping to understand our natural water systems and the human role in them, but also for developing technology,” Vitale said.

Vitale said all students are welcome to participate.

“You’re using water, you’re contributing potentially to contaminant issues and you want to know that your water supply is taken care of. You are voting for people to go into office who are going to be making those decisions about how do we best take care of our water. Whether or not a student decides to pursue the freshwater workforce as a career, it’s still really important for them to understand that aspect because water is such a strong component of our society,” Vitale said.

Students will be exploring rivers, streams and lakes across the state, including some in the Chippewa Valley.