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U-M Ross Business + Impact
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Great Lakes Seminar Series: Silvia Newell

Silvia Newell standing in front of a body of water


Wetlands perform critical ecosystem services, including nutrient reduction, flood mitigation, and biodiversity habitat. More than 90% of wetlands in Ohio have been destroyed and most major water bodies in the state now experience annual harmful cyanobacterial blooms. The H2Ohio Initiative in part funds statewide wetland restoration to improve water quality through nutrient reduction. Dr. Newell is one of the H2Ohio Wetland Monitoring Program leads, monitoring water quality at newly constructed wetland or restored wetlands. This talk will focus on nutrient reductions at two wetlands: Brooks Park flowing into Buckeye Lake, a hypereutrophic lake experiencing annual harmful algal blooms. Brooks Park wetland was built at the junction of Murphy’s Run creek into Buckeye Lake, draining a very small watershed (1.2 sq. miles) and behaves as either a flow-through wetland or a coastal wetland depending on precipitation. Preliminary data from the first year of monitoring indicates that the wetland is a sink for total nitrogen (>3000 lbs/yr), but a small source of ammonium (~44 lbs/yr). However, the wetland is a very small source of total phosphorus (~42 lbs/yr), while a sink for soluble reactive phosphorus (~16 lbs/yr). The 90-acre Burntwood-Langenkamp Wetland Conservation Area is located at the confluence of Burntwood and Coldwater Creeks in Mercer County. This site is a former corn/soybean field in the Grand Lake Saint Marys watershed. Water enters the site from Burntwood Creek (BWC) through pump and overflow and then flows through a series of settling ponds and vegetated flats that extend for over a mile. BWC drains approximately 5,700 acres of watershed land and can hold approximately 20 million gallons of water. Total Nitrogen (TN) concentrations at the outflow are approximately 73% lower than the TN inflow concentrations, which average over 16.3 mg N/L for the year 2023. An approximate annual decrease thus far of ~55% in SRP concentration has been seen between the inflow and outflow with outflow concentrations averaging 0.044 mg P/L. Nutrient load reduction will likely vary as the wetlands mature, but data from the first year indicate that both wetlands are already performing a vital ecosystem service.

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